As it turns out, Ancient Greek and Roman statues were in color after all

by Mark R

Every once in a while, science proves that our ideas that we have about ancient cultures are wrong.

After all, every film that I have seen about Ancient Rome, whether it be Gladiator or Ben-Hur, shows that the civilization was filled with white buildings and statues that were devoid of color.

Sure, it shows how dictatorial and powerful the Romans were, but in reality, all those buildings and statues were painted up in bright colors. All of those centuries of wind, sun, and sand strip the colors away like bleach.

All you need to do is shine an ultraviolet light on it, and, as long as the path of the light is almost parallel to the surface of the object, it makes the brushstrokes obvious. As different paints wear off at different rates, the raised levels of stone reveal the elaborate patterns of paint that was once on the seemingly untouched white surface.

Well, this certainly affects my perception of Greek and Roman history. Now, instead of thinking that their taste in art was monochromatic and bland, I realize that they have the pastel aesthetic of the 80′s decade.

Maybe we should turn that ultraviolet light on Michelangelo’s David. I wonder what colors we would see there.

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4 reviews or comments

Neagle Says: August 24, 2010 at 7:40 pm

One of the biggest mistakes a society can make is teaching in absolutes in a universe filled with variables.

hukiworld Says: August 25, 2010 at 11:56 am

Well said Neagle. We need to stop thinking we are the center of everything, including time. This planet is not the center of the universe and there are many factors and simple explanations as to why certain things are the way they “appear” but that doesn’t mean it has always been that way as these statues prove that OUR old school thinking was inadequate.

Matsuda Says: August 30, 2010 at 4:40 am

Michelangelo’s David is not Roman, it is from the Renaissance, created between 1501 and 1504. White :P

Enzo Says: August 12, 2012 at 7:17 am

there is nothing strange about this, even Maya or Aztecs or old cultures from Asia were full of colors colours were very expensive and rare , and a strong symbol of power

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