Egyptian blue was a synthetic pigment used in Egypt, starting around 3rd millennium BC, to imitate turquoise
and lapis lazuli
. Blue was an important color to the Egyptians and natural gemstones possessing a vivid blue color were very rare in the region. Staggering amounts of Egyptian blue were needed to make all the beads
, icons, decorative displays and objects that were composed with the use of the color blue.
As best as we can reconstruct, Egyptian blue was composed of quartz
, calcium carbonate and plant ash or natron. These were melted together resulting in the creation of synthetic cuprorivaite - Egyptian blue.