Transition in the use of cobalt-blue colorant in the New Kingdom of Egypt

Yoshinari Abe, Rodan Harimoto, Tadashi Kikugawa, Ken Yazawa, Akiko Nishisaka, Nozomu Kawai, Sakuji Yoshimura, Izumi Nakai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Cobalt-blue colorant was first used in the 18th Dynasty in the New Kingdom of Egypt. The source of this cobalt was cobaltiferous alum from the Western Oases of Egypt. The use of this alum, especially in glass, was suddenly limited at the end of the 18th Dynasty. There is little evidence of the production of cobalt-blue glass in the Ramesside Period (the 19th-20th Dynasties) in the New Kingdom of Egypt. In this study, we brought a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to two archaeological sites located in the Memphite region and used it for onsite analyses of Ramesside cobalt blue-colored glasses and faiences. This method revealed that the compositional characteristics of the cobalt-blue colorant in these Ramesside glasses and faiences is different from the colorant derived from cobaltiferous alum used in the 18th Dynasty, based on the comparison of transition metal composition and alumina content with those of the cobalt blue-colored artifacts from the 18th Dynasty. This result suggests that a new cobalt source other than cobaltiferous alum from the Western Oases was utilized in Egypt during the Ramesside Period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1793-1808
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Jun


  • Cobalt-blue colorant
  • Egypt
  • Faience
  • Glass
  • New Kingdom
  • Onsite analysis
  • Ramesside Period
  • XRF analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Archaeology


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