Return Home

Mysteries of Armenia

The Brazen Mystery


From time immemorial Armenia has been famous for its mineral and organic dyestuff. Unfortunately, the secrets of their production are irretrievably lost today. Widely spread was the red paint karmin, which was obtained from cochineal female worms found in the alkali soils of the Ararat Valley. The worms crawled out to the surface only in September and October, and interestingly enough, only in the evenings. In his diaries, Leonardo da Vinci describes the paint brought by him from Armenia as one that “has not yet been used by a single soul in Europe”. He might have quite possibly referred to karmin. Among other mysteries related to the Armenian paints one should also mention the dye used in the frescos of Erebuni Fortress, which was built in the 8th century BC on the territory of present-day Yerevan. Even though the mural mineral paint is called lapis lazuli in all academic reference books, the chemical analysis of the samples confirmed the copper origin of the blue color. At the earliest stages of the new era Plenius wrote about some paint called armenium, which he said “dyed as chrisocolla”. There is no doubt that he meant the very copper paint obtained from the Armenian stone, which had been used in Mesopotamia on a par with lapis lazuli since the 3rd millennium BC.

Tagged as: , , , ,

Leave a Response