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Re: [WarOf1812] madder red/natural plants

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  • Raymond Hobbs
    The purple dye used in the Greek and Roman period was harvested from the Murex shellfish - now virtually extinct in the Mediterranean. The site at which I
    Message 1 of 24 , Jun 26, 2002
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      The 'purple dye' used in the Greek and Roman period was harvested from
      the Murex shellfish - now virtually extinct in the Mediterranean. The
      site at which I excavated for six years, Dor, was a centre for the
      making of the dye, and on site we found large pits filled with the
      crushed shells of these aquatic animals. On the basalt rocks on the
      shore you can still see the vats used to rot the first stage of the
      dye-making.
      The shells and creatures were crushed, then boiled in vats. They were
      then left out in the sun so that excess water could be evaporated and
      the thick residue could then be sifted in a highly concentrated form.
      The process was extremely labour intensive, and as far as we can
      determine was primarily a commercial venture by a few manufacturers -
      the process was also very tedious and long. The result was that a
      purple-dyed cloak, used by noibility and generals in the Roman Army,
      would cost the equivalent of $10,000 a piece. Hardly an argument for
      cheapness.
      The Geographer Strabo describes the evaporation process as smelling like
      rotten garlic - it was always downwind of any residential area. In this
      region the prevailing wind - for 90% of the year - was from the south
      west.
      A bit off topic - but interesting. Just shows you to what expense the
      'nobility' will go to make themselves look good - hey that sounds like
      our 1812 staff!!!
      Ray Hobbs
      41st Regt. of Foot

      Zorniak wrote:

      >
      > When we dyed wool with cochineal it produced a brilliant red colour,
      > not really a purple (the source of the royal purple dye interestingly
      > enough came from a Greek
      > shellfish).
      >
      > Don Zorniak
      > Chemist Emeritus
      >
      > Scott Jeznach wrote:
      >
      > >
      > > >That's interesting. It was my understanding that cochineal was
      > more expensive and produced a more "purple" tinted red, more
      > appropriate for upper classes and officers.
      > >
      > > Scott J.
      > > Royal Marines.
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      > The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds
      > of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of
      > THOUSANDS of square miles...
      >
      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


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