prehistoric pigments, ancient egypt and greece

Some of the first known pigments were obtained from the earth 30,ooo years ago. These pigments produce realistic and spirited images on the cave walls and ceilings.  Earth pigments included red and yellow ocher, along with blue, green, purple, black, white and gray. A formula was applied to color : red ocher was used for the skin color of Egyptian men, yellow for women and brown for Nubians, pale bluish gray, white  or yellow for background color and black was used for hair and outlines. Blue was used for the sky and the river and purple for earth. Green meant the fertile ground along the Nile.

The Palace of Knossos ( 1700 BC ) on the Crete island from Minoan civilization had distinctive feature of large red and black columns tapered at the base resembling overturned tree trunks. Their strong colors emphasize their bulk. The most colorful frescoes are those in the Throne Room which are bright red walls divided by a wavy white horizontal band. This color combination may represent clouds and water or earthquake activity which is common in the area.

source : color for interior design -Ethel Rompilla