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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

Munsell

November 30, 2017

Is that new paint ivory, cream, or creamy beige? Describing colors is hard! Archaeologists use the standardized color chips in Munsell books to describe soil colors consistently. The books use a combination of letters and numbers to make a unique identifier for each color (for example, 10 YR 3/2). This makes for clearer and more consistent color recording than verbal descriptions such as “reddish brown” or “mousy brownish gray”–which can mean very different things to different people.