Discover hidden colors and intricate patterns in 2,500-year-old Parthenon marble

Ancient Greek statues were thought to be immaculately white, but a new study reveals that the Parthenon sculptures were once multicolored.

The Parthenon sculptures , also known as the Elgin Marbles , were crafted by the ancient Greeks 2,500 years ago to decorate the exterior of the Parthenon temple in Athens. They are now housed at the British Museum in London. They, like many ancient sculptures, are a gentle mix of white, gray and beige.

"" The section from the Parthenon Marble is currently white, but it was painted when it was first crafted in the fifth century BC. (Photo: markrhiggins via Getty Images).

Intricate patterns, colorful colors

However, a new study reveals that the colors of famous sculptures weren’t always dull – in fact, they were once painted in intricate and vibrant patterns. 

The bright Egyptian blues, whites and purples once covered statues depicting protective gods and mythical creatures of the fifth century BC.

The colors used to represent the water from which some of the characters live, the skin of a mysterious sea serpent, and the empty space and air in the background behind the statues are also said by the researchers. like the hieroglyphic motifs on the robes of the gods.

File:The Hercules Sarcophagus depicting the Twelve Labors of Hercules, 150-160 AD, Ninth Labour- Belt of Hippolyta, Kayseri Archaeological Museum, Turkey (25684421763).jpg

Lead author of the study Giovanni Verri, a conservation scientist at the Art Institute of Chicago, said: “The Parthenon sculptures at the British Museum are considered among the pinnacles of ancient art and have been Many scholars have studied for centuries. Despite this, no traces of color have been found and little is known about how they were carved.

Because paint typically does not last long on marble and the surfaces of sculptures are not prepared to allow adhesion from substances such as paint, archaeologists have long assumed that Greek artists ancient times intentionally left the statues white.

To investigate the statues’ past, archaeologists used photoluminescence, a technique that causes trace chemical elements from hidden paint on the sculpture’s surface to glow. The team quickly discovered hidden patterns on the surfaces of the statues, revealing blurred floral designs and symbolic images.

The researchers concluded that they were likely painted first and then placed on the temple.

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