Studying Natural Dyes to Identify Ancient Plants

Studying Natural Dyes to Identify Ancient PlantsStudying Natural Dyes to Identify Ancient Plants

A session on ‘analysis of natural dyes’ held at the Islamic Azad University of Zanjan, aimed at identifying ancient plants used in natural dyes.  Dr. Richard Larson, professor of Boston University, and faculty and students of science and research at the Azad University, participated in the session.

Larson explained his researches on ancient colors, and said: “This is a new study area and interested students can take up investigations.”

The samples of his research were collected from arid regions all over the world, including Zanjan. He suggested that students scrutinize the rich resources of ancient samples that can be found along the Silk Road.

The Silk Road, or Silk Route, is a network of trade and cultural transmission routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East, by merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China, India and Iran to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time. So it is replete with valuable samples “which can be studied.”

Many dyes can be obtained from natural sources, such as plants, animals, and minerals. In fact, humans have known about and used natural dyes since the dawn of civilization. Red iron oxide, for example, has long been used to color cloth and pottery. Today, T-shirts dyed with naturally occurring red dirt (iron oxide) are popular among tourists on Hawaii’s island of Kauai. Red dirt imparts a brilliant orangish-red color to cloth that is almost impossible to wash out. Other natural dyes include sepia, obtained from cuttlefish.

 Study Samples

Larson also believed that mines and seismic areas to be rich resources of study samples and said: “Discovering salt covered men, a well-preserved corpse of a Chinese man buried years ago and also the intact corpse of a ‘hanged man’ thrown into the river, show that in certain situations, salt and plant cover are among the reasons why bodies remain intact” and useful for extracting study samples.

He said samples which include natural dyes, can contribute to identification of ancient plants to create a comprehensive data base associated with plants.

The head of researchers club of Islamic Azad University, Dr. Karim Zare’ said that today, advanced science and technology promotes the development of societies.

On the efforts of academic and scientific centers, he said the university has established branches all over Iran and also in Lebanon and the UAE since its founding 30 years ago.