The Ten Books on Architecture, 7.8.1

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 7.7.2 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 7.8.2 ›››

Gwilt translation

8I shall now speak of vermilion. This is said to have been first found in the Cilbian fields of the Ephesians, and the manner of procuring and preparing it is very curious. A clod of earth is selected, which, before it is manufactured into vermilion, is called Anthrax, wherein are veins resembling iron, but of a red colour, and having a red dust round them. When dug up, it is beaten with iron bars till a great number of drops of quicksilver exude from it; these are immediately collected by the excavators.

Morgan translation

8I shall now proceed to explain the nature of cinnabar. It is said that it was first found in the Cilbian country belonging to Ephesus, and both it and its properties are certainly very strange. First, before getting to the vermilion itself by methods of treatment, they dig out what is called the clod, an ore like iron, but rather of a reddish colour and covered with a red dust. During the digging it sheds, under the blows of the tools, tear after tear of quicksilver, which is at once gathered up by the diggers.