Showing 1 result for the tag: Discovery News.

June 25, 2009

The true colour of the Parthenon Sculptures

Posted at 9:03 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Greece Archaeology

There have been a few articles recently about how traces of the original paint have been found on the Parthenon Sculptures. Whilst this may come as a surprise to the general public, I am not entirely sure why this is suddenly being touted as a new discovery. Despite the traditional image of white Greek sculptures, for many years it has been known that they were in fact painted originally. If you are allowed access to the Parthenon itself & know where to look, in areas that have been sheltered from the elements there are still clear traces of decorative painting (ok – this isn’t on the sculptures themselves – but the fact that they were coloured it isn’t a huge leap of the imagination, based on the amount of other pieces of evidence that indicate this).

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the British Museum’s treatment of the Elgin Marbles stems from the cleaning of them under the instruction of Lord Duveen. For this reason, the fact that this news has appeared at the same time as the opening of the New Acropolis Museum seems more than coincidental – part of a concerted effort by the British Museum to show that despite their botched & widely condemned efforts to clean the sculptures, there are still traces of paint there (presumably with the added implication that there aren’t traces on the ones in Athens).

Discovery News

Blue Paint Traces Found on Elgin Marbles
Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
June 25, 2009 — The Elgin Marbles, the subject of one of the oldest international cultural disputes, were originally coated with shades of blue, a new imaging technique has found.

Some of the 17 figures and 56 panels from a giant frieze that once decorated the Parthenon have revealed traces of an ancient pigment known as Egyptian blue.

The original artifacts were chiseled off in 1801 by Lord Elgin, then the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, and have long been a point of contention between London and Athens.
Read the rest of this entry »