Prior to the development of synthetic dyestuffs starting in the middle of the 19th century, organic dyes have only been gained from a variety of plants, fungi, lichens and insects. These colorants have been used to color skin, hair, foods, textiles and other artifacts. For instance, various ancient cultures dyed textiles with a brilliant red hue utilizing scale insects of the superfamily Coccoidea.
Dyestuff analyses on historic objects give some clues concerning applied dyeing technologies, available resources and questions of cultural exchange. Furthermore, material analyses are essential for the conservation and restauration of these objects. However, historic colorations are often based on complex mixtures of different compounds. Thus, for the separation and characterization of these dyestuffs, liquid chromatographic techniques are commonly considered as methods of choice. In this study, LC-ESI-MS/MS under reversed phase conditions using a Superspher RP-18 column is applied to analyze dyestuffs of a reddish historic textile from South America.