Anatase--a pigment in ancient artwork or a modern usurper?

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2006 Mar;384(6):1356-65. doi: 10.1007/s00216-005-0284-2. Epub 2006 Feb 21.


Fragments of wall-paintings from Roman villas in Easton Maudit, which date from ca 150 AD have been studied by Raman spectroscopy. An intact ancient Roman paint pot discovered in the remains of a villa in Castor, Cambridgeshire, still containing a mixture of white and red pigment was also analysed and the pigments identified as haematite and anatase. The discovery of anatase in the intact artist's paint pot, particularly, and also on fragments of broken paint pots from the Easton Maudit villa site, is a unique contribution to current knowledge of ancient European pigment history, because the presence of this mineral has not hitherto been recognised fully in an ancient artist's palette. The relative spectral response of anatase and haematite in the Raman data is compared with that of anatase and other red pigments such as minium, cinnabar, and litharge.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Architecture
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Mercury Compounds / analysis
  • Paintings / classification
  • Paintings / history*
  • Pigments, Biological / analysis*
  • Roman World
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman
  • Titanium / analysis*
  • Titanium / chemistry


  • Mercury Compounds
  • Pigments, Biological
  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium
  • cinnabar