Black ink was made from powdered charcoal, soot or lampblack mixed with gum and diluted with water. Both the Egyptians and the Hebrews made use of different colors. Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian mentions red, blue, purple, gold, and silver tints.

The Essenes, who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, used burned lamb bones and oil. It is remarkable how well the writing has been preserved to this day.