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N.º 31
pp. 115-132


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Material analysis versus historical dye recipes: ingredients found in black dyed wool from five Belgian archives (1650-1850)

Natalia Ortega Saez1,*, Ina Vanden Berghe2 , Olivier Schalm1 , Bert De Munck3, Joost Caen1

1 University of Antwerp, Faculty of Design Sciences, Heritage Department, Campus Mutsaard, Blindestraat 9, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium

2 Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK/IRPA), Jubelpark 1, 1000 Brussel, Belgium

3 University of Antwerp, Faculty of Arts, History Department, Grote Kauwenberg 18, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium



The relationship between bibliographic and archival research, on the one hand, and object-based study, on the other, forms a very important basis for research into historical production techniques. Several written sources provide insight into the recipes for dyeing black in the past. Yet, this does not guarantee that these written recipes are representative of an entire society or were used in the dyers practice. The way to assess how closely practical dyeing and written sources are aligned entail the chemical analysis of historical textiles. This article focuses on the identification of the ingredients used to dye wool black in the case of well-preserved and dated (1650-1850) historical textiles from five Belgian archives and some remaining historical artefacts. The results are compared with the technical knowledge of dyeing and the ingredients mentioned in written sources from the same period. The aim is to refine the knowledge of the different black dye ingredients used in practice in Northwest Europe during the period.


Black dyeing
Belgian Archives
Iron mordant







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Ortega Saez, N.; Vanden Berghe, I.; Schalm, O.; De Munck, B.; Caen, J., 'Material analysis versus historical dye recipes: ingredients found in black dyed wool from five Belgian archives (1650-1850)', Conservar Património 31 (2019) 115-132,

Ortega Saez, N., Vanden Berghe, I., Schalm, O., De Munck, B., & Caen, J. (2019). Material analysis versus historical dye recipes: ingredients found in black dyed wool from five Belgian archives (1650-1850). Conservar Património, 31 115-132. DOI:10.14568/cp2018025.

Ortega Saez, Natalia, Ina Vanden Berghe, Olivier Schalm, Bert De Munck, and Joost Caen. 2019. "Material analysis versus historical dye recipes: ingredients found in black dyed wool from five Belgian archives (1650-1850)." Conservar Património 31:115-132. doi:10.14568/cp2018025.

ORTEGA SAEZ, Natalia [et al.] – Material analysis versus historical dye recipes: ingredients found in black dyed wool from five Belgian archives (1650-1850). Conservar Património. [Em linha]. 31 (2019) 115-132 [Consult. ]. Disponível em WWW: <URL:>. ISSN 21829942.

ORTEGA SAEZ, Natalia et al. Material analysis versus historical dye recipes: ingredients found in black dyed wool from five Belgian archives (1650-1850). Conservar Património, Lisboa, v. 31, p. 115-132, 2019. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: .


Received: 2018-6-17
Revised: 2018-12-20
Accepted: 2019-1-4
Online: 2019-3-10
Publication: 2019-4-30


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