Friday, 19 July 2013

Colouring The Past

I have posted before on the colour of the past. How we are completely wrong to think that the ancient world was a monochrome of white or dark marbles, but in fact was a riot of colours everywhere the ancients looked. Of course bronze was already around .......

Giant Bronze Statue Athena - Acropolis - Pheidias

But recent discoveries have show exactly how much colourising went on - not just of cult images, but of the statues seen daily on the streets and the buildings. There were coloured statues ....

This Goddess Was Originally Painted Like This

These Are The Original Colours Found On This Statue

..... Then there is the fact that they now know what the colours were on the Parthenon .....

How It Would Look On Site
Frontal View
Angled View

The irony is that although the Parthenon is undergoing an extensive makeover and repair, largely funded by and with technical assistance from the European Union, it is not intended to restore it to a pre-1687 state, but rather to simply repair the explosion damage from the Ottoman period. Which will be mitigated as much as possible by restoring the aesthetic integrity, by filling in chipped sections of column drums and lintels, using precisely sculpted marble which will be cemented in place.

New pentelic marble is being used from the original quarry and ultimately, almost all the major missing pieces of marble will have been replaced in the structure, supported as needed by modern materials. While the repairs will initially show as white against the weathered tan of the original surfaces, they will become less prominent as they age.

But crucially, although the restorers know fully well that the building was originally of vivid decoration, they are not prepared to go that far ...... yet. So as discussed before, we are in fact doomed to see the 'ruins' not as they really were when they were completed, but rather at a specific designated time line date of ruination, that current local historians think we should.

Imagine the Great Wall of China being left deliberately as a ruin by the Chinese .... you can't, can you.  


  1. I saw on the Idiot Abroad that large parts of the Great Wall are indeed in ruins so, something for everybody. Not possible with a single structure like the Panthenon though.

  2. The Great Wall (or really 'walls') of China is 3,889 miles of fortifications .... even I wouldn't expect it all to be restored.


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