Chemists journey to Gobi region for samples, discover novel dye in textiles from Peru
Although searching for 3,000-year-old mummy textiles in tombs under the blazing sun of a western Chinese desert may seem more Indiana Jones than analytical chemist, two Boston University researchers recently did just that. Traveling along the ancient Silk Road in Xinjiang Province on their quest, they found the ancient fabrics – and hit upon a research adventure that combined chemistry, archaeology, anthropology, botany, and art.
The chemists, Richard Laursen, a professor in the Boston University Department of Chemistry, and Xian Zhang, a chemistry graduate student, have refined a technique that helps archaeologists and anthropologists identify the plant species that ancient people used to make fabric dyes. Their technique has not only provided researchers with a new, more powerful tool for analyzing previously known dye types, it also has led to the discovery of at least one never-before described dye. In addition, the BU chemists have started a catalogue of plant sample characteristics for use by dye researchers around the world.
Ann Marie Menting | EurekAlert!
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