Archaic Colours

This is an interdisciplinary programme of documentation for the painted decoration found on the marble sculptures of the Acropolis Museum’s Archaic Collection. The purpose of the program, launched in 2012 and still ongoing today, is the recording and identification of colour schemes preserved on the sculptures, as well as the study of the composition of the ancient pigments and binders, their application technique and the origin of their raw materials. In the research conducted so far, we have identified pigments including Malachite, Conichalcite, Azurite, Hematite, Cinnabar and Egyptian blue. Analyses, bibliographical research and experimental application of pigments on accurate copies of selected portions of the sculptures have led to the finding that, in antiquity, the application of colour to certain areas of sculptures was done with a hot-wax “encaustic” technique, which more closely resembles a process of micro-sculpting with a layer of coloured wax, rather than painting.

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