Mysterious ancient paintings ‘show surprising knowledge of science’

Rob Waugh
·Contributor
The paintings show a surprising knowledge of chemistry (The Siberian Times)
The paintings show a surprising knowledge of chemistry (The Siberian Times)

Ancient cave paintings unearthed at a burial site in Karakol village in the Altai republic were crafted using surprising scientific knowledge, scientists have found.

Created 5,000 years ago, the prehistoric people knew how to carry out a basic chemical reaction to modify the colour of their paints, the researchers said.

Researchers from Moscow’s Kurchatov Institute analysed the chemicals used to create the paintings and found that the red parts were made of thermally modified ochre.

The white parts were made by scraping rock crystals and the black parts were made of soot.

Roman Senin of the Kurchatov Institute said: 'We determined the phased composition of pigments, that is, the structure of the crystal lattice of individual grains of the dye.

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‘Some structures are not typical for natural samples, but are the product of heat treatment.

‘Simply put, the primitive artist heated the mineral to a certain temperature in order to get the colour he needed.'