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Materials Lab Workshop: Egyptian Blue

Winged scarab, Egyptian, Ptolemaic period, c. 323–31 BCE. Faience. Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Schimmel Foundation, Inc., 1991.35.


Harvard Art Museums, 32 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA

The ancient Egyptian language did not have one specific word to denote blue. The color, rich with symbolic value, was obtained through exacting processes throughout Egyptian history. The manufacture of the world’s first synthetic pigment, Egyptian blue, as well as the ceramic/glass hybrid Egyptian faience, became iconic elements of Egyptian art. Much like the imported lapis lazuli, these materials would have been available only to Egypt’s elite. Light blue fabric, dyed from the plant woad, is all that the average workman would have been able to access.

In this workshop, Laura Taronas, a Ph.D. candidate in Egyptology at Harvard, will explore the multiple applications and symbolic meanings of the color blue throughout Egyptian history. Participants will first take a visual tour of some of ancient Egypt’s most emblematic work, focusing on the use of the color across mediums. In a hands-on session in the Materials Lab that follows, participants will create their own mock wall painting fragments inspired by Theban tomb paintings incorporating Egyptian blue. Through this experience, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the core principles and cultural values that define Egyptian art and how such art reflects the ways the ancient Egyptians conceptualized the world around them.

The workshop will take place in the Materials Lab, Lower Level.

$15 materials fee. Registration is required and space is limited. Materials fee must be paid to confirm registration. Please email, stop by the museums’ admissions desk, or call 617-495-1440 to register. Minimum age of 14; no previous experience required.