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Old High German also had two words for black: swartz for dull black and blach for a luminous black.These are parallelled in Middle English by the terms swart for dull black and blaek for luminous black. The Lascaux Cave in France contains drawings of bulls and other animals drawn by paleolithic artists between 18,000 and 17,000 years ago.

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Later they reversed the process, painting the spaces between the figures with slip.

This created magnificent red figures against a glossy black background.

Black ink is the most common color used for printing books, newspapers and documents, because it has the highest contrast with white paper and is the easiest to read.

For the same reason, black text on a white screen is the most common format used on computer screens.

The word black comes from Old English blæc ("black, dark", also, "ink"), from Proto-Germanic *blakkaz ("burned"), from Proto-Indo-European *bhleg- ("to burn, gleam, shine, flash"), from base *bhel- ("to shine"), related to Old Saxon blak ("ink"), Old High German blach ("black"), Old Norse blakkr ("dark"), Dutch blaken ("to burn"), and Swedish bläck ("ink").

More distant cognates include Latin flagrare ("to blaze, glow, burn"), and Ancient Greek phlegein ("to burn, scorch").

Swart still survives as the word swarthy, while blaek became the modern English black. They began by using charcoal, and then made more vivid black pigments by burning bones or grinding a powder of manganese oxide.

For the ancient Egyptians, black had positive associations; being the color of fertility and the rich black soil flooded by the Nile.

The German and Scandinavian peoples worshipped their own goddess of the night, Nótt, who crossed the sky in a chariot drawn by a black horse.

They also feared Hel, the goddess of the kingdom of the dead, whose skin was black on one side and red on the other. They believed that Odin, the king of the Nordic pantheon, had two black ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who served as his agents, traveling the world for him, watching and listening.

It was the color of Anubis, the god of the underworld, who took the form of a black jackal, and offered protection against evil to the dead.

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