Research ArticleARCHAEOLOGY

Early pre-Hispanic use of indigo blue in Peru

Science Advances  14 Sep 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 9, e1501623
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501623

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text


Archaeological research has identified the use of cultivated cotton (Gossypium barbadense) in the ancient Andes dating back to at least 7800 years ago. Because of unusual circumstances of preservation, 6000-year-old cotton fabrics from the Preceramic site of Huaca Prieta on the north coast of Peru retained traces of a blue pigment that was analyzed and positively identified as an indigoid dye (indigotin), making it the earliest known use of indigo in the world, derived most likely from Indigofera spp. native to South America. This predates by ~1500 years the earliest reported use of indigo in the Old World, from Fifth Dynasty Egypt [ca. 4400 BP (before present)]. Indigo is one of the most valued and most globally widespread dyes of antiquity and of the present era (it being the blue of blue jeans).

  • Cotton
  • indigo
  • textile
  • twining
  • dye
  • preceramic
  • Peru
  • South America
  • blue

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

More Like This