The world of ancient Greece was actually decked out in vibrant colour that little resembled the austere white marble figures that usually spring to mind when we think of ancient Greek sculpture and architecture, according to the latest archaeological research. The Acropolis Museum will from Tuesday and for the next 12 months launch a series of activities and studies designed to unveil this brightly coloured world of antiquity to the public.
The Acropolis Museum wants to open a very extensive discussion with the public and various experts on color, its technical issues, its detection using new technologies, its digital reconstruction, its meaning, as well as the archaic period’s aesthetic perception of color. So far, scientific research into the color found on ancient sculpture has made great progress and reached surprising conclusions that refute the stereotypical assumptions regarding ancient sculpture. It turns out that color, far from being just a simple decorative element, added to the sculpture’s aesthetic quality.
For ancient Greeks and their society, color constituted a way to display various attributes. The blond hair of the gods projected their power; the brown skin of warriors and athletes was a sign of virtue and valor, while the white skin of the young persons expressed the grace and radiance of youth.
The Μuseum’s initiative is based on very careful observation, on spectroscopic analysis, on special photography sessions, on efforts to reproduce the colors of antiquity and then to apply them on marble from the island of Paros, and naturally, on searching through written sources for valuable information.