“In the 13th century, when Armenia lost its statehood, vermilion production declined. Then, in the XVI-XVII centuries, the Mexican red worm appeared on the world market. The Mexican red worm was smaller than the Armenian red worm, but it produced offspring five times a year, unlike the Armenian, which produced offspring only once a year. This is why Armenian red vermilion began to be driven out of the market, making way for Mexican vermilion.
Artificial pigments were discovered in the XIX century. Their production was both easier and cheaper. It looked like they could completely replace natural dyes. While the world obsessed over the new artificial dye, the composition of vermilion manufacture was forgotten.
Later, time showed that artificial colors could not replace natural ones. They quickly lost their color brilliance and were also hazardous to health. Absinthe was used with confidence and without fear in foods, which could not be said of artificial colorants.
Work began on the study of the scarlet worm. In 1830, the academician of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences, the famous technologist, and mechanic Iosif Gamel, was sent to Armenia for this purpose. As a result of his research, substantial work was published in Russian and German.
In the early 19th century, Isahak Ter-Grigoryan (1780-1858), the reverend of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral, attempted to restore the vermilion composition, continuing the traditions of the medieval miniature painter Sahak Tsakhkarar.
In the 1930s, the Soviet government also tried to open up vermilion production. However, it was not possible to implement it – the war prevented it. The Ararat scarlet vermilion research project was relaunched in 1971 but never reached an industrial scale.
All the while, many people have been trying to discover the secrets of obtaining vermilion dye. Of course, the manuscripts preserved in the library contain sufficient information on its preparation. However, they require in-depth study. It’s necessary to understand what a particular term means and what units of time are used.”