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Artistic impressions of the ancient Acropolis

The Acropolis & Parthenon looked very different originally when they were painted in bright colours. A new exhibition helps to highlight this aspect neglected in the past by artists.

India eNews [1]

Greek ancient monuments receive splash of colour
Friday, February 02, 2007

If ancient Greeks could take a walk along the many tourist stalls beneath the ancient Acropolis, they would be amazed to behold the countless marble miniatures of the popular site, all depicted in white.

Archaeologists said many of the ancient ruins looked completely different approximately 2,500 years ago, when the Parthenon was actually covered in brilliant shades of red, blue and green.

Now, a group of artists have taken the liberty to revive history with an exhibition of 21 coloured replicas of the ancient sculptures called Munich’s Gods in Colour at the National Archaeological Museum.

The exhibition, which runs until March 24, was presented for the first time at the Munich Glyptothek in 2004 before travelling to a number of countries for the past two years.

Archaeologists first discovered traces of colour on various sculptures during laser cleaning as part of ongoing restorations to the temple, built in 432 BC.

Weathering through the bleaching of the sun, blowing of sand and more modern pollution caused the colours to fade over time.

‘New research methods were developed in order to trace colour remnants on ancient sculptures. This was followed by careful analysis in order to reproduce the initial colours with as much accuracy as possible. When all this was achieved, colour was added to replicas of well-known Greek and Roman sculptures,’ said Museum Director Nikos Kaltsas.

‘It is a well known fact that both ancient Greek sculptures and temples featured colour, yet colour remnants on some works today cannot do justice to their original appearance,’ he added.

A portion of the Parthenon’s most intricate carvings are now housed in the British Museum in London, and Greece has repeatedly demanded that they be returned to the place of their birth.

Experts believe the Elgin Marbles may have been stripped of some of their remaining colour when they first arrived in London in the early 19th century, due to months of scraping with abrasive tools by museum officials convinced that the marbles had originally been pure white.

‘This exhibition confirms, once more, that what we know of the past is never really a given. Archaeological research is constantly developing through the adoption of new methods, whose aim is to get closer, if not reach, the truth,’ Kaltsas added.

– By Christine Pirovolakis