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Blue Pigment for a post about history of blue color by Studio Daboo
March 25, 2023

Ancients & Color Blue

Est. Reading Time: 2 minutes

If you didn’t know, blue color is a relatively recent phenomenon. This came from the study of writings of greek poet Homer who used strange colors to describe things. For example, iron and sheep he described as violet, while honey is green, with no mention of Blue anywhere.

This led scientists to believe for some time, that the color blue didn’t exist for ancient peoples and even theorise that ancient people were colorblind, or that they had a limited color vision pallet.

Further studies have shown that it is not that ancient people didn’t see color blue, but that they never used blue to describe anything, that is except for Egyptians. After all, they were the only people who successfully created a blue dye back in the day.

egyptianblue wall glyphs studiodaboo.com
Egyptian hieroglyphs wall with color blue

Many cultures had a hard time distinguishing blue from other colors, and if they couldn’t point it out, they would not have a name for it. Color naming came in sequence of priorities, first came black and white, as darkness or light, then red for blood and wine, followed by yellow and green and lastly blue. 

Best example of this is the Himba tribe in Africa who couldn’t distinguish blue from green, while at the same time they have name for all shades of green, hence they couldn’t name blue as such as they didn’t have a name for it and were perceiving blue mostly as a particular shade of green.

himba colours studiodaboo.com
Green and Blue as perceived and named by Himba Tribe

So in end conclusion no, ancient people weren’t colorblind, they just didn’t have a name for color blue.

read more: Fun facts about black colour