Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Supermarket molluscs reveal Roman secret

"John Edmonds, A British amateur chemist, has worked out how the ancient Romans dyed the togas of emperors this deep colour thanks to a bacterium found in cockles from the supermarket Tesco. He explained to the British Association science festival in Salford, Greater Manchester, how he rediscovered the secret of imperial purple after studying the fermentation process of indigo pigments from the woad plant.

With help of researchers in Reading and from Israel he has been able to establish the vital role played by a bacterium in chemically reducing (the addition of electrons) the ancient pigments so that they will dissolve in a dye solution.
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