The Geography of Significant Colorants: Antiquity to the Twentieth Century




Zagorski, Melissa

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This thesis attempts to answer the question: Where does color come from? In order to answer this question, a rigorous analysis of art-related, chemical, scientific, and geographical literature was required in order to create a comprehensive inventory of colorants in the form of a geodatabase of Colorants (included as a CD with this thesis). The geodatabase of Colorants is compatible with ESRI’s ArcMap 9.x geographic information system (GIS) and can be used to explore the geography of significant colorants (antiquity to the twentieth century). This thesis provides a summary of colorants per continent and provides maps to illustrate where different hues and types of colorants come from. In order to understand the distribution of colorants per continent, statistical analyses were performed to reveal potentially significant correlations between number of ecoregions per continent and various colorant-related variables per continent. Linear bivariate regression analysis indicates that terrestrial ecoregions account for approximately 59.4% of the unexplained variation in number of types of colorants per continent. Results from the statistical analyses of colorant-related variables indicate some interesting possibilities about human interaction with color and the search for color in general. Pearson’s and Spearman’s bivariate correlation analyses and multiple linear regression analyses indicate that diversity in nature yields more types of colorants, a good reason to maintain ecosystem integrity. A chapter on the commonly used colorants in maps, specifically antique hand-colored maps, is also provided that explores the importance of colorants from a curatorial perspective. Knowledge of the geography of colorants and the conclusive identification of colorants is important to proper authentication, preservation, and restoration of antique maps. The Vinland Map reprint is given as an example.



Colorants, Geography, Color, Maps, Pigments, Conservation