Before discussing how hues are relevant to the history of colour in the prehistory, how can we express in words a piece of art? According to Thurston (1945), art is one of the studies which is difficult to verbalize because it is the subject that people feel, enjoy and express in their mind. Individuals generally look at the colour first when they analyse a piece of art because it is easier to see as visual things change are colour coded (Thurston, 1945). Gage (1978) refers that three attributes for substance colour and formula colour generally referred to as hue, saturation, and tone. Hue is the distinguish tools for colour segmentation which are classified as red, blue, green, yellow and purple (Kuehni, 2005). As colour palette expanded by constantly adding various hues and particular symbolism and relationship generated over time, hue is relevant to the prehistory period.
To begin with, the first colour palette has been created in early pre-history period since ancient people decorated their habitat such as walls of caves or rocks in the form of paintings (Marshack, 1981). In details, ancient people used the pigments that generally derived from locally available natural sources in the vicinity (Conway, 2012). As the result, the number of hues that ancient people used in the pre-history were extremely limited and these restricted hues were created based on three primary colours; red, yellow and black (Abell, 1953). The reason is common pigments were red ochre, yellow ochre, charcoal from the fire, earth brown and burnt bones (Barnett, 2008). Although ancient people had limited colour palette for cave paintings and body paintings, they mixed colours with water, resin and animal fat to discover more hues (Kuehni 2005). Therefore, the colour palette of ochres and earth colours were firstly introduced in this prehistory as the starting point of hues.
Moreover, ancient Egyptians began to observe the wider range of natural elements in their environment and improved technology to pulverize various oxides and other materials to develop the hues that they desired (Barnett, 2008). Consequently, new colours such as blues, greens, violet, white and gold were added to the pre-history palette (Conway, 2012). In addition, Glubok (1963) shows that Egyptian had a great appreciation for life to all the gods so they clearly depicted thankful through art. Each hue had an own specific symbolism and became standardized in order to ensure a uniformity in artwork since ancient Egypt period (Marshack, 1981). For example, red represented vitality and energy but also danger and destruction. Yellow symbolized sun and eternity, green implied spring and renewal and gold reflected royalty and divinity (Marshack, 1981). As the result, colour has been applying to more wide range of areas not only body paintings but also architecture and jewellery (Glubok, 1963). Hence, hue discrimination ability of ancient Egyptian improved (Ruddly, Groenewegen & Ashmole, 1973).
Furthermore, the high development of science and technology in ancient Greece produced new lead-base hues such as lead white, yellow-orange, purple, brown and green with more available pigments (Ruddly, Groenewegen & Ashmole, 1973). Greek artists were able to mix green earth and the pigments that discovered previously and were able to mix natural materials (Barnett, 2008). A strong red hue, Vermilion, is the example that produced from mineral cinnabar. Also, the most impressive hue in ancient Greece is purple which symbolized power and wealth because manufacturing process was expensive (Jacobson, Pearson & Robertson, 2008). Additionally, Iwata (2012) refers that colour was a quality of material, not of light, however, ancient Greece artists have identified the relationship between colour and lightness and applied them into artwork (Hanfmann, Becatti & Ross, 1969). For instance, lead white was used to emphasize the lighter elements on the darker background. With this, aesthetic considerations of people increased (Hanfmann, Becatti & Ross, 1969).
In conclusions, hues are relevant to the history of colour in the prehistory for these following reasons. First, a large range of pigments were discovered to create new hues over time since the first colour palette was created in the pre-history. Second, the identified hues were generally used in a representational as well as symbolical manner from ancient Egypt period. Third, Greek artwork applied relationship between hues and lightness. In contrast, some research argues that hue is irrelevant to the prehistory because hues used in the prehistory were only selected from the limited colour palette (). However, the colour palette was able to expand by adding new hues over time and hue discrimination ability and aesthetic considerations of people have been increased at the same time.