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Romans enjoyed several kinds of bread and bread recipes were just as diverse as they are today.


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Lentaculum was made of emmer and a little bit of salt, and had flat and round loaves. Artolaganus was a kind of fatty cake bread that was made of meal which was like a coarse unsifted powder ground from the seeds of wheat grain. The Parthian bread was kneaded and soaked in water before being baked giving it a light soft texture. There were also honey and wine soaked breads such as picennum which was a sweet bread baked with nuts and honey in clay molds.

The molds had to be craked before the bread could be eaten. There were many other kinds of breads such as bread eaten only with oysters or "water bread" which was light and full of holes, just like a sponge according to Pliny. Bread was baked at home or purchased at the bakery. There were many bakers throughout the city of Rome. There were also expert bakers specialized in local and foreign versions of bread.

In Pompeii, over 30 bakeries and a large number of rotary mills to grind grains were found thereby proving that Romans consumed a lot of bread! The book was actually a guide to managing a farm and it contained a basic recipe to making bread, the kind of bread that any Roman would have made at any stage in Roman history. Cato writes: "Recipe for kneaded bread: wash both your hands and a bowl thoroughly. Pour flour into the bowl, add water gradually and knead well. When it is well kneaded, roll it out and bake it under an earthenware lid.

Cato recommended baking the bread under an earthenware lid. We believe that it made the bread softer and gave it a better taste. It is worth noting that spelt bread is increasingly being sold in health shops and some bakeries. Cooking instructions Preheat an oven to o C F. In a large bowl, add the spelt flour along with a little salt.

Mix it. Pour the olive oil in the bowl. Gradually add the water and continue mixing until you get a dough that isn't too sticky or floury. Knead the dough and make it into a circular shape. Make marks on the top of the dough with a knife dividing it into 8. Bake for 45 mns in the oven.

If you can cover it with a lid. Your Roman bread is ready to be served. Please note that since no yeast is being used, the bread won't have risen much if at all. Another Roman bread recipe This is a simple recipe that would have been used by an ancient Roman baker or by soldiers in the Roman army. Cooking instructions: Pour the water in a mixer bowl. These were used to treat a host of ailments, from plague to snake bites.

Modern medicine uses kaolin in some of the same ways that Mattioli and Dioscorides used them. Mattioli writes of kaolin and its use for dysentery, wound dressings, and mouth ulcers. Mattioli spends a great deal of time puzzling about what Dioscorides and Galen meant in their discussion of these medicinal clays in relation to what was available to him. He examines the colors, he tastes them, and puts the earths on his lips to match them up to earths of the ancient doctors. Since kaolin is naturally fine it would have required less grinding than hematite.

The colors could be white, red, or yellow and the colors in between. Professor Tizzoni tells me that he has even seen kaolin with a green cast. The color depends on its proximity to coloring minerals. They were the ones imprinted with symbols meant to insure place of origin. The Lemnian earth came from island of Lemnos in Greece.

Dioscorides writes of the Lemnian earth as being mixed with goat kid blood and bearing a seal with a goat. In ancient times it was supposed to have been collected and formed into cakes by an Hephaestia priestess and her helpers. The sealed earth cakes bore seals of Artemis or her attributes, including a goat. A vivid account of the island of Lemnos and the Leminan earth was written by H. Fanshawe Tozer in his Islands of the Aegean , The book was pointed out to me by Professor Tizzoni. Tozer visited Lemnos, which was then part of Turkey, and prepared himself for the visit by reading ancient authors.

He particularly read Galen, who had visited Lemnos and collected 20, cakes of the Lemnian earth to bring back to Rome, and a later visitor, the 16th c. He sees none of the dull red earth that previous authors had described. He also writes of Lemnos women who wore beaded necklaces made of clay and how they would grate off pieces of the beads for medicinal purposes. Lemnia was kaolin. Bentonite and montmorillonite are quite common on other Greek islands such as Mylos and they were not sought after at all in ancient times!

Mattioli was keenly aware of counterfeiters and he outlines a ruse by which phony terra di Lemnia passed through Constantinople. He goes to some length in discussing fake earths and how to tell them apart, but it must have been difficult. The marks on the sealed earths, like the hallmarks on precious metals, the words Parmigiano Reggiano on Parmesan rinds, and the word Pfizer imprinted on viagra pills, could easily be faked. A London Wellcome Images.

The common armenian boles would have come from Italy. The Ricettario Fiorentino writes of red armenian bole coming from the area of Volterra. The later edition of the Ricettario , writes of Elba as a source, confirming what Mattioli had written. The entry on Armenian bole reads:. But for medicines to apply to the exterior, the red is to be preferred since it is more astringent. Ricettario Fiorentino He also lists Fiesole and the more distant Golfolina as spots for finding common Armenian bole in his Viaggi fatti in diverse parti della Toscana per osservare le produzioni naturali e gli antichi monumenti di essa He said that there was also a great deal of kaolin in the territories of Vicenza, which was exhausted in the 20th century.

Mattioli relating that common armenian bole, or kaolin, was used to fabricate the chalk is significant since conservators who have studied the composition of old master and 19th century red chalk drawings, have found kaolin in red chalk. Debora D. Mayer and Pamela B.

The paper was delivered first at a symposium on drawings, sponsored by Ian Woodner. The study is particularly interesting for its discussion of the platelet particles common to both hematite and kaolin. Mayer and Vandiver sought to determine the differences between natural, fabricated, and synthesized red chalk.

They also wanted to establish when synthesized chalks made from synthesized iron oxide began to be manufactured. For their study they took minuscule amounts of chalk from drawings and also examined actual pieces of red chalk, one of which was from Lascaux. Most often hematite and clay were present in equal proportions. Clay alters the color of the chalk to a lighter tint, but more importantly, it eases the spread or flow of the chalk onto the paper, often referred to as softness.

Kaolin is the clay most often used. It is a family of fine white clays with a platey particle shape and particle size of about one to ten microns a micron is a thousandth of a millimeter. Common red armenian bole would bring some iron oxide and the red ochre would bring more, but still less than a straight hematite chalk. On the same page they relate that clay and water have enough binding power to bring together a piece of chalk. Since the Fogg study was undertaken, I believe there have been advances in identifying binders, especially protein based binders, but plant ones as well.

It would truly be excellent to be able to identify, for example, the 32 binders listed as common in the Ricettario Fiorentino. Mayer and Vandiver found that the difference between natural and fabricated chalk is that fabricated chalks show evidence of being milled. Now, the common armenian bole which Mattioli writes about would have needed minimal milling since it was fine by nature. It would have had to be cleaned. In industries, such as the paper industry, they use the word slurrying to denote soaking kaolin. Kaolin is used in paper to give body and also gloss to the surface.

Impalpable is a lovely word, more a word of another era. Sludge is the less nice word that came to mind for the ground hematite that I left to soak in water for 24 hours. It is impalpable.

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How much evidence of milling is apparent after soaking hematite, hematite-rich red ochre, or kaolin is something to think about. Mattioli uses the word impalpabile in his entry on hematite, although he does not speak of wetting it. Leonardo uses the word impalpable several times in his notebooks.

In Madrid II, fol. As one of the possible colorants to the earth he lists iron rust. His instructions call for numerous grindings, but also involve soakings and water changes. There may have been fillers in the chalk. Something that would have cost even less than common armenian bole. Gesso, or gypsum, might have been used. The common armenian boles have a nice red-brown color, but not the color of blood-red hematite—what pharmacies were duping. To make the chalks redder they added hematite-rich coloring earths, that is red ochres. Italy is full of red earths.

The Tuscans says the iron in the soil which makes it red, also accounts for their good wine. In Campania, Liguria, and the Veneto you can see that they have red ochres because of the colors their buildings are painted. Even if the traditional paints may now be artificial and come in plastic tubs from worlds away, in the past the colors were used because they were nearby and easily had.

Here are some red ochres attached to places: terra di siena, rosso pozzuoli, rosso ercolana, terra di verona, and rosso di venezia. Emilia Romagna also borders Tuscany. Rome, another place where many artists used red chalk, has Tuscany to the north, and Campania directly to the south. Some red chalk drawings are raspberry-red in color. Those chalks were probably made with a paler kaolin.

I have a feeling that it would be difficult to arrive at those clear reds with the muddier brown-red kaolin. One would have to experiment to see. Professor Tizzoni suggested that they might have added beeswax or animal fat to the chalk to have it better adhere to paper, or wood. Pork, horse, cat, badger, buzzard, dog, fox, goat, kite, duck, chicken, donkey, lion, skimmer, goose, bear, duckling, snake, mole, lizard. The variable of animal fat adds a new dimension to the problem, and makes it much tougher to figure out.

The good news is that the same pharmacies carried delicious sounding fruit syrups, with which one could chase down either choice.


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For the eye solutions, one would want someone else to administer it, so as to avoid looking in a mirror and seeing red liquid dripping from your eyes. The pharmacies also sold delicious sounding candied fruits. In later editions Mattioli says that soft clay-like chalk comes from open areas in the mountains. Were it to be used as a medicine and for making marks, it would have to have been cleaned and washed of its grit, seeds, lichens—the sorts of things that blow about in the mountains.

He was walking in the mountains and saw something that looked like the chalk in pharmacies. Ulisse Aldrovandi , the Bolognese naturalist, collector of natural specimens, and professor carried on a correspondence with Pietro Andrea Mattioli. Instead, he writes:. Mattioli denies that this is real Hematite, instead he asserts that it is an imitation made with common Armenian bole and other fake stuff. Metallicum Mattioli was a friend and correspondent of Gherardo Cibo — , the draftsman and botanist.

Cibo also carried on a correspondences with Ulisse Adrovandi. Arnold Nesselrath and Katia Lysy published a book on the edition in Mattioli died of the plague in the early months of Kaolin was a prime medicine for plague. No amount of the finest, costliest terra sigillata would have helped him. It could have aided some of the symptoms, but not the disease.

Because of reading about Mattioli, which I would not have done except for red chalk, I found out that the genus of flowers called Matthiola , was named after Mattioli. The genus of the Brassicaceae family includes stock. Their colors, perfume and gray-green leaves are very close to heavenly. Materia medicinale per eccellenza. In 16th century Italy the words matita and lapis were used interchangeably for the word chalk.

The widespread view about red chalk is that artists in Italy began using naturally occurring red chalk in the late 15th century, and that it was replaced by fabricated red chalk, first made in France in the 18th century. The problem with this view is that there is a tremendous variation in color in the red chalk drawings of Italian artists, and references to where the red chalk came from is essentially absent, with the exception of Vasari, who locates the origin to the mountains of Germany.

Post on Vasari and red chalk later. Naturally occurring art materials very often are paired with geographical indications, such as terra di pozzuoli , terra di siena , bolo armeno and others, but there are no references to lapis di … or matita di … and, to me, this is significant. Hematite is a major ore of iron, and for a while I was entertaining the idea that red chalk could be a byproduct of iron mining, thinking that the boom in iron used principally for armaments coincided with the use of red chalk.

That Leonardo and Francesco di Giorgio Martini see drawings in British Museum, catalogued as having brown chalk underdrawing , could be connected to iron production, and the design of weaponry, seemed interesting. Because of this, I contacted Professor Marco Tizzoni, cv and publications. He is an archeologist, whose main focus is historic iron mining and metallurgy.

Tizzoni recently retired from the University of Bergamo, and is now training archaeologists in ancient mining and metallurgy for the National Archaeological Service of Lombardy Soprintendenza Archeologica della Lombardia. Our email exchanges and Skype conversations have been invaluable to me. Professor Tizzoni quickly set me straight.

He went on to say, with more generosity towards mankind, that earlier artists were fully capable of making their own, and that nowhere in Italy could red chalk suitable for writing and drawing be quarried, mined, or dug from the earth. He also added that he is not an expert in writing and drawing materials.

Byproduct chalk had seemed like a good possibility, but after conversing with Professor Tizzoni, I had to let that idea go. Professor Tizzoni then said that I should make my own chalk, that I should experiment. The first recipes I found were in English publications, and date to the s. From the Italian publications, I could see that a certain Sig. Lomet was credited with the recipe, and then looked for his work.

I wish I had. Lomet also gives the recipe in ounces and grains time of metric changeover , which may be found in the article linked above. The important thing about the recipes is that they contain the barest number of ingredients, with no fillers. Hematite surely was increasingly available in 15th and 16th century Italy because of iron mining, particularly in Tuscany and Lombardy.

Gum arabic was also widely available. Just below is an image of the hematite chalks I made. The one on the left was made with 50 grams of hematite and 2. I briefly tried stuffing some of the damp chalk material in a piece of tubular pasta lined with baking parchment paper, but soon gave up. The gum one on the left has dried out a bit since I made it. It has become harder to manipulate. In the center is red chalk, possibly from Poland. Top: gum arabic grains, ground hematite, fish glue sheet; Bottom: gum arabic chalk, Zecchi natural red chalk, fish glue chalk. The hematite, gum arabic, fish glue, grinding slab and muller were also ordered from Zecchi — Colori — Belle Arti.

I learned that their hematite comes from Russia. Professor Tizzoni related that I could buy it from a shop specialized in mineral specimens, which I may eventually do. The idea of grinding down a chunk is a little off-putting my grinding ability is poor and I lack attention span , although he says hematite can be soft, and even flaky.

Kremer Pigments also sells natural hematite, both in lump and ground form, and because they list the composition for the ground hematite, I had wanted to order some from them, but they having a warning about its being only for professional users. Nevertheless, to give a general idea of what makes up hematite, below is the composition list of Kremer hematite. Kremer Hematite -Chemical composition. Spelled out. SiO 2. TiO 2. H 2 O struct. Vandiver, delivered at a Woodner symposium at the Fogg, and published in the book, Drawings Defined My next post will be about a 16th century source, where kaolin, a clay, is listed as the central ingredient, and the proportion of hematite or hematite-rich material would be smaller.

Kaolin is often described in terms of platelets. Mayer and Vandiver use the word platey in their study and see this characteristic as a hallmark of naturally occurring red chalk. Professor Tizzoni, over the years had collected a great deal of hematite. He recently gave his collection to the University of Pavia, where they are mapping hematite, looking at the chemical composition, the markers, to compile a database on the mineral and its places of origin. I asked him why my hematite was more brown than red in color. If my hematite were redder, the resulting chalk would look less like chocolate.

One further note, fish glue dries very slowly, much more slowly than gum arabic. My first fish glue batch was disastrous.

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Then it writes for a short while. Just below is a screenshot and below that is the translation by Jean Paul Richter :.

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Chalk dissolves in wine and in vinegar or in aqua fortis and can be recombined with gum. She also provides an excellent index. I underlined the red and white wine gums. They must have evaporated most of the water to achieve a gum, or all of it to make a powder. This caught my eye because Leonardo writes of dissolving chalk with wine. Then shut or entirely cover one eye and with a brush or red chalk draw upon the glass that which you see beyond it; then trace it on paper from the glass, afterwards transfer it onto good paper, and paint it if you like, carefully attending to the arial perspective.

People grind. And if macinata refers to chalk, that would indicate that Leonardo is talking about fabricated, and not natural chalk. This is an important distinction because the general art historical thinking on red chalk is that artists began using natural red chalk in Italy in the late 15th century, and that it was only supplanted by fabricated red chalk in 18th century France.

Carlo Pedretti, Piera G. I was a little surprised by this, but it is understandable if you look at folio r.

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Later in the essay she theorizes that Leonardo could have made chalk because of the phrase in question. The one-letter word right after the cancelled word is not clear, and it really is the source of confusion. It could be either:. The paint choice would seem to be for a truly advanced practitioner. Whatever the correct interpretation, after having read fol.


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I was just going to keep them as reference material, but I was encouraged to make my own chalk by Prof. The work was first published in by Giuseppe Tambroni.

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Attempts have been made to attribute art works to Cennini, but nothing is secure. The school, part of the Pisa University system, provides a website which has an excellent section on digitized art treatises. This link leads to the start page. Linking to individual books is not possible, as the links are unstable. In chapters XV-XVII, he discusses how to make grounds for both parchment and paper, saying, among other things, how the support should be flattened, how the pigments must be well ground, and how to apply the tinting grounds with a soft brush.

The chapters are very short; often just a few sentences long. He calls the color morella and gives an alternate color name, pagonazza. Porpora , the more recognizable word for purple, appears twice in the Libro. Morella is a plant of the nightshade family, whose fruit or berry is a deep purple. It is also the name given to a blue-flowered plant, turnsole in English, which was used to produce a blue to purple dye. Maybe the length, before the eye, is a dusty purple. For a confirmation of the color purple, Filarete in his Trattato di Architettura , f.

He uses two slightly different names for hematite, amatita and amatista, in the Libro. The a at the beginning may be a nice vestige of the Greek word. Ematite is the word used for hematite in current Italian. Whether Cennini had a particularly purple hematite or whether his expert grinding turned the color from its usual red, is something that has to be left open. I PK. Just above is a drawing attributed to Fra Angelico, and is dated to c. It is at the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam, and is one from a series of ten miniature drawings figuring the life of Christ, of which the Boijmans has seven link to the seven here.

The cataloguer describes the color of the ground as red-violet. Two of the drawings in the series, the Lamentation , and Christ Among the Doctors appear to be on a slightly different color of prepared parchment. In any case, it is very hard for me to take my eyes off the images of these drawings.