Archeologists Unearth a Rare Purple Pigment That Is More Valuable Than Gold ?

In a groundbreaking archaeological discovery in Carlisle, England, a team unearthed a rare sample of Tyrian Purple, a pigment once more valuable than gold. This discovery found preserved in the drains of a third-century Roman bathhouse, sheds light on the opulent lifestyle and intricate trade networks of ancient Rome. The lump, initially a strange organic mass, was identified as Tyrian Purple through the presence of Bromine and beeswax. This ancient dye, produced from the Murex brandaris and Purpura haemostoma mollusks, required an arduous process involving the extraction of liquid from live snails and exposure to sunlight, often taking up to 12,000 mollusks to yield just one gram of the precious substance. The discovery in Carlisle underscores the pigment’s rarity and its significance in the Roman Empire, where it symbolized imperial power and was used exclusively by emperors and the elite.

For millennia, Tyrian purple was the most valuable colour on the planet. Then the recipe to make it was lost. By piecing together ancient clues, could one man bring it back? says

Frank Giecco of Wardell Armstrong, the firm leading the excavation, highlights the significance of this find, suggesting a connection to the Imperial Court of Emperor Septimius Severus, who had a strong presence in northern England. The presence of Tyrian Purple in this remote part of the empire, alongside other luxurious artifacts such as intaglio-carved jewels, strengthens the hypothesis of Carlisle’s role as an imperial site. This is the only known example of solid Tyrian Purple pigment in Northern Europe and possibly the entire Roman Empire, making it a monumental find for understanding the distribution and usage of this precious dye. The ongoing excavations in Carlisle, spurred by the 2017 discovery of a Roman bathhouse, continue to unveil the city’s rich Roman heritage, including links to high-ranking figures like Empress Julia Domna, further cementing Carlisle’s significance in Roman Britain.

source: BBC

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