The nature of ancient Egyptian copper-containing carbon inks is revealed by synchrotron radiation based X-ray microscopy

Abstract : For the first time it is shown that carbon black inks on ancient Egyptian papyri from different time periods and geographical regions contain copper. The inks have been investigated using synchrotron-based micro X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and micro X-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy (XANES) at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The composition of the copper-containing carbon inks showed no significant differences that could be related to time periods or the geographical locations. This renders it probable that the same technology for ink production was used throughout Egypt for a period spanning at least 300 years. It is argued that the black pigment material (soot) for these inks was obtained as by-products of technical metallurgy. The copper (Cu) can be correlated with the following three main components: cuprite (Cu 2 O), azurite (Cu 3 [CO 3 ] 2 [OH] 2) and malachite (Cu 2 CO 3 [OH] 2).
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Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7, pp.15346. 〈10.1038/s41598-017-15652-7〉
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Thomas Christiansen, Marine Cotte, René Loredo-Portales, Poul Lindelof, Kell Mortensen, et al.. The nature of ancient Egyptian copper-containing carbon inks is revealed by synchrotron radiation based X-ray microscopy. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7, pp.15346. 〈10.1038/s41598-017-15652-7〉. 〈hal-01651647〉

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