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Grant number like: PR-276751-21

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Regents of the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)
Caroline Roberts (Project Director: May 2020 to present)

Research and Development
Preservation and Access

[Grant products]

$46,595 (approved)
$46,595 (awarded)

Grant period:
3/1/2021 – 8/31/2023

Advancing the Technical Study of Color in Archaeological Collections

The development of a research workflow and protocol based on capacity-building technical research in color studies using X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) and multi-spectral imaging (MSI) techniques to study archaeological collections at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.

Color is a fundamental tool of human expression and has been for millennia. Understanding how people used color in the ancient world can tell us about their beliefs, values, and how they viewed the world around them. Color could be found everywhere: in architectural spaces, on sculpture, and in the clothing people wore. Color choices were made at every level of society, from emperors to individuals in their daily lives. Color was a commodity that traveled across the ancient Mediterranean, from western Spain to the Fayoum region of Egypt. Certain colors were so valued – and so rare – that people devised ways to create them chemically. We know much of this thanks to the scientific study of color that survives on artifacts. Technical color research provides physical evidence of the prevalence and variety of color in antiquity, and is changing the way we think about the ancient world.