The Ancient Greeks & Romans Used Nanotechnology! …to Dye Their Hair?! (ca. 500 BC – 100 AD)

By: The Scribe on Sunday, September 16, 2007



Apparently the Greeks and Romans were more scientifically advanced than we thought… except they used their knowledge for hair dye.According to a 2000-year-old recipe for hair dye, the ancient Greeks and Romans were harnessing a scientific force that they had no idea even existed – they were using nanotechnology on their very own heads.

The Greeks and Romans used hair dye with some measure of frequency, most often for the purpose of dying their gray hair to black. Their dry mixture contained ingredients such as slaked lime and lead oxide, which – when exposed to human hair for approximately 3 days – causes nanocrystals made from lead sulfide to form inside the shaft of hair.

This reaction is caused when sulfur from the amino acids that are naturally present in hair keratins mix with the lead in lead oxide – initially, this is what causes the hair to turn black, but it apparently also causes lead sulfide nanocrystals that are highly similar to those found in modern, advanced scientific processes!

In simpler terms, the chemical compound that forms inside of the human hair is what colors the hair without damaging it – and the process by which the hair is dyed black is very similar to modern nanotechnology. Fortunately for the Greeks and Romans, this kind of lead-based hair dye is safe for human use, since the compound typically has trouble penetrating the skin.

Interestingly enough, the chemical engineering that came from this dye process – where the tiny crystal structures line up to form ‘quantum dots‘ – is something that scientists have admitted is a “current challenge in nanotechnology”, and is actually a process that researchers are currently trying to figure out how to develop on their own.

Turns out there really is some truth in the saying “it’s all been done before”…!

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Tomorrow: More Ancient Standard!







 

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