They’re iconic. Stark white statues, busts, and ruins of the ancient Greeks have symbolized the purity and elegant simplicity of the ancient world to us for thousands of years. They have left an impression on our collective consciousness, appearing in countless images from Renaissance paintings to modern film and television.
Yet recent technological advancements have revealed a secret lost to the wear and tear of time.
Those classic statues were actually brightly colored in their time.
A lamp is positioned carefully enough that the path of the light is almost parallel to the surface of the object…Brush-strokes are impossible to see, but because different paints wear off at different rates, the stone is raised in some places – protected from erosion by its cap of paint – and lowered in others. Elaborate patterns become visible.
Ultraviolet is also used to discern patterns. UV light makes many organic compounds fluoresce…On ancient Greek statues, tiny fragments of pigment still left on the surface glow bright, illuminating more detailed patterns…A series of dark blues will create a very different effect than gold and pink.
The ancient world was vividly colored.
What do you think about the ancient statues having been colored? If you have your own statues, will you paint them?