The ‘Reds’ that Baffle Science
New discoveries in a British Columbia rock quarry are the latest evidence of advanced technology from before the dawn of history, and continue to mystify current science. Indeed, some think the body of lost knowledge now coming to light may be beyond our current comprehension.
University of Missouri Research Reactor, researcher Brandi MacDonald, and colleagues have published a new study, “Hunter-gatherers harvested and heated microbial biogenic iron oxides to produce rock art pigment,” in Scientific Reports, under the auspices of journal Nature. According to MacDonald red pigments found at a Babine Lake site, thought to be nearly 5000 years old, achieved a durability far beyond anything that can be achieved by the science of the 21st century. (https://www.nature.com/ articles /s41598-019-53564-w)
On another front: More than 2,000 years ago artists developed thin-film coating technologies unmatched by today’s accomplishments in producing DVDs, solar cells, electronic devices and the like. A report in the ACS journal Accounts of Chemical Research provides details. (https://www.acs. org/content/acs/en/pressroom/presspacs/2013/acs-presspac-july-24-2013/ancient-technology-for-metal-coatings-2000-years-ago-cant-be-mat.html)
It is now clear that ancient artisans had a variety of techniques for applying lustrous, impressively uniform films of gold and silver to intricate objects. Some apparently involved using mercury like a glue. At times the tricks were used to coat real metal, and at others to make cheap metal look rich.
Gabriel Maria Ingo and colleagues say they have made good progress in figuring out how some of the work may have been done, but much of the ancient craftsmanship could not be matched today.
At about the same time Chinese alchemists, it is believed, first created something called Han purple from barium copper silicates. It was used in pottery, large imperial projects such as the terra cotta warriors, and as a trading coin. Recently scientists at Florida State University’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have learned that when the pigment is exposed to very high magnetic fields and low temperatures it generates waves that move only two-dimensionally, something previously unobserved. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060601211745.htm)
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