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Ancient Blue

Paul Skallas
Jun 25, 2018 · 3 min read

Q1: Did the Ancients have a word for the color blue?

A1: Yes

Q2: Could the Ancients see the color blue?

A2: Yes

Q3: Why am I even asking such ridiculous questions?

A3: Many modern scholars have told the public that the Greeks and Hebrews could not see the color blue or alternatively, had no word for the color blue.

Q4: Why would they do that?

A4: Because they didn’t understand how to read ancient texts. Then they consulted “experts” who also could not understand how to read ancient texts and they cited each other, and were happy with the conclusion that blue did not exist in the ancient world.

Q5: So how did you figure out that the Ancients had a word for blue?

A5: If you study the “Classics” you need to be familiar with the Eastern Mediterranean ecosystem where different groups traded, interacted and engaged in linguistic sharing. These groups include Hebrews, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks, Cypriots, Anatolians, Canaanites, etc. Most Classicists only study Latin and Greek, completely forgetting the other 3/4 of the Ancient world. So I began my investigation with the Semitic word “K-H-L” which means to paint the eyes, which means blue.

Q6: Why does K-H-L mean blue if it means to paint the eyes?

A6: Eyeliner. Eyeliner was black and grey but it was also blue/green. The blue/green part of eyeliner came from the malachite/azurite mineral. Often times these are found together in copper mines. So the word blue and eyeliner became synonymous in semitic (Arabic, Levantine, Hebrew) and even Persian (Surmeh).

Q7: Is there descriptions of K-H-L in ancient texts?

A7: Yes. We see the word used in the Bible. Specifically Genesis 49:8–12, Proverbs 23:29–30 and Ezekiel 23:40. These passages refer to the blue eyes someone receives after they drink too much mixed wine and also to the eye makeup that women wear.

Moreover, we have a fragment from 7th century B.C. Judea with the inscription YYN KHL (Blue Wine).

Q8: Blue eyes from drinking mixed wine and blue wine? This sounds complicated.

A8: Blue eyes could refer to many things. The dark blue bags under your eyes when hungover, the blue eyeliner over your eyes to cover their hungover looks, the tradition of pagan women who put on eyeliner and drink mixed wine at ancient Dionysian festivals, to the blue eyes of northern europeans who enjoy getting drunk much more than mediterraneans, to ocular edema that causes your eye become blue from too much alcohol due to dehydration. But the value of wisdom is that, in all those cases the warning against blue eyes works. Religion is meant to protect you.

With regard to the Blue Wine pottery fragment. The argument against ancient distillation is very weak. Which I will address in another publication. Perhaps, what they were drinking was not “just” wine but something that burns with a blue flame like ethanol.

Q9: Is there any connection between K-H-L and Alcohol?

A10: Yes. There are a number of connections. Cosmetics were not just for decoration, they also served as ocular therapy and religious ceremonial purposes. Eye makeup had a functional medical use. Moreover, early wine and alcohol also had a religious, ceremonial and medicinal purpose as well. Most ancients drank beer to get drunk. Wine was special. The word wine also came to encompass many types of alcohol. Sweet wines are thought to be honey based Mead. Aristotle discusses a certain wine that does not look nor taste like wine at all and is inflammable. Red wine is not flammable, but ethanol does. We also see in the Ancient Greek texts the use of 3–4–5 cups of water to one cup wine. Modern wine drinkers would never think to do that, it would be ridiculous. Interestingly, the supposed founder of distillation was a Persian named Razis. He was also an ophtamalogist, an eye doctor. He wrote many texts on ancient medicine and credited with distillation. It’s not a coincidence this term “kahol” which encompasses eye and alcohol exist throughout history side by side.

Q11: What does the modern word “Kahol” mean in Hebrew?

A11: Blue

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