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by Archaeology Newsroom

The strata of paint in an icon is studied using infrared photography and electronic microanalysis

The Nativity is an icon of the Cretan School belonging to the first post-Byzantine period of painting. It is on show at the Byzantine museum. There seems to have been a great variety of pigments used in the painting which the authors of this article analysed. Infrared photographs were taken with refraction of the light source. The painting was also examined through a metallographic microscope and electronic microanalysis which confirmed the findings. The great variety of colours in the painting in due mainly to the mixing of different kinds of yellow ochre with lead white. Umbers and siennas which are normally used in icons have not been used here. Almost all pigments that were identified were widely in use during the 15th century without being exclusive to those times since they have been in use almost to our day.