June 17, 2009

The colourful Parthenon sculptures

Posted at 12:59 pm in Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

More coverage of the news that traces of original paint have been discovered on the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum.

Daily Telegraph

Parthenon was covered in colourful paint
The Parthenon temple in Athens was once painted with splashes of colour, according to a new study.
By Chris Irvine
Published: 7:00PM BST 17 Jun 2009

New tests on the stone have found that the marble was once covered with shades of blue, while it also thought red, green and gold were used.

By shining red light onto the marble, Dr Giovanni Verri identified an ancient pigment known as Egyptian blue, used until the year 800AD.

Traces of paint that remain absorb the red light and emit infrared light.

He has been examining some of the temple’s most intricate carvings which now reside in a specially-built wing of the British Museum in London.

According to New Scientist, any parts of the marble once blue appear to glow when viewed through an infrared camera.

Egyptian blue has been found on the belt of Iris, the messenger of the gods, and as a wave pattern along the back of Helios, god of the sun. It also appears as stripes on the woven mantle draped over another goddess.

Dr Verri said: “We informed our Greek colleagues of what we found and they responded warmly, saying they are interested to examine these flecks themselves.”

No trace of pain has ever been found on the Parthenon sculptures.

Ian Jenkins, senior curator in the British Museum’s Department of Greece and Rome, said: “I always believed the frieze must have been painted.

“This new method leaves no room for doubt. Colouring would have hugely enhanced the visibility.”

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