Materials Matter: Exploring ancient pigments in the classroom

Orna and Rasmussen (eds.), Cambridge Scholars Publishing

October 10, 2020
Archeological Chemistry

Hilary Becker led the Materials Matter team to contribute a chapter to this volume. We describe new course at Binghamton University which draws chemistry and physics into conversation with archaeology, art history, and the history of science through an interdisciplinary focus on a particular class of materials—pigments. In its first iteration, co-taught by an archaeologist and a physicist, instruction focused upon all aspects of pigments, considering why pigments have color, their atomic bonding, ancient prices of pigments, and even how innovations in pigments influenced other industries. Class sessions stress humanities research methodologies alongside the quantitative and experimental methods of STEM fields, offering students insights into the process and modes of research early in their college career. This paper also highlights the work of the graphic designer who has been involved in planning this course from its inception. His work for Materials Matter is driven by the overarching goal of communicating complex chemical processes by utilizing an integrative visual language.

Read more about the edited volume here