Between myth and reality: on the mummy pigment
A nineteenth-century mummy pigment (Hafkenscheid paint material collection) was analysed by direct temperature-resolved mass spectrometry (DTMS) and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS, Py-GC/MS, Py-TMAH-GC/MS). Megilp and asphalt (Hafkenscheid collection) reference samples were analysed under similar conditions. The mummy pigment investigated is complex. Py-GC/MS data indicated a pre-treated asphalt, i.e. only (di)benzothiophene- and traces of hopane-asphalt markers were left in the sample. DTMS, GC/MS and Py-TMAH-GC/MS results for the pigment pointed to the presence of slightly aged mastic resin and conifer resin and a complex lipid fraction. A poorly oxidized linseed oil and additions of beeswax, seen as long chain normal fatty acids, and another fat of a bacterial, fungal or human origin showing myristic acid, C6:1-C16:1 and C18:1 mono-unsaturated fatty acids, iso and anteiso fatty acids were found. The main components, mastic resin and linseed oil, suggest a megilp combined with a black mummy-like pigment. In spite of the degraded asphalt, the unusual fat and the beeswax found, a connection between Egyptian mummies and the Hafkenscheid mummy pigment cannot be proven.
Languri, G. M, & Boon, J. J. (2005). Between myth and reality: on the mummy pigment. Stud. Conserv., 50, 161–178.