flags (& spam) [Re: To try to answer ...]

Dave Long dl@silcom.com
Thu, 11 Apr 2002 10:41:57 -0700

>       ... where I find solace/strength in clean lines, regular 
> shapes, and bright colors ...

Up until chemical dyes, lightfast
colors were pretty much limited to
blue and red*.

Therefore, we shouldn't expect to
find flags with additional colors
antedating o-chem.

Any counterexamples?


* Elizabeth Wayland Barber,
_Women's Work: The First 20,000 years_:Island Fever
> The advantage of vat dyes is that they don't wash out.  To make madder
> and most other plant dyes colorfast, one needs a mordant, a chemical
> which fixes the dye.  Soon after the height of the Minoan culture we
> have evidence of the mineral alum, the best natural mordant, being
> imported into the Aegean from Cyprus, so perhaps the Minoans knew of
> its use already.  But all the way up until the invention of synthetic
> dyes in 1856, reds and blues were the easiest colors to keep from
> either washing out in water or fading from long exposure to light.
> (Hence the flags of most countries that became political entities
> before 1856 are colored red, white, and/or blue.)  It is probably
> no accident that these were the colors that the Egyptians depicted
> their Aegean visitors wearing.


> Well in fact, I was going to point out that this
> is exactly how the Catal Huyukians dealt with spam.

In pre-literate hunter-gatherer
days, spam was not a problem:
it took days of travel to spam
a few individuals.

When the neolithic revolution
occurred, and people settled
down, they found the spammers
could take advantage of their
permanent addresses and high
population density by walking
around the town buttonholing
as they went.  One could try
to throw rocks at them, but
it was never very successful
at keeping them away.

The Catal Huyukians found they
could sharpen the black glassy
rock they had lying around, and
used them to cut the noses off
of spammers.

Not only did this development
make it easier to avoid local
spammers, but it also led to
a thriving export trade when
other towns eagerly adopted
the obsidian technology.