Ultraviolet light reveals how ancient Greek statues really looked
By Esther Inglis-Arkell | io9.com
Original Greek statues were brightly painted, but after thousands of years, those paints have worn away. Find out how shining a light on the statues can be all thatís required to see them as they were thousands of years ago.
Although it seems impossible to think that anything could be left to discover after thousands of years of wind, sun, sand, and art students, finding the long lost patterns on a piece of ancient Greek sculpture can be as easy as shining a lamp on it. A technique called Ďraking lightí has been used to analyze art for a long time. A lamp is positioned carefully enough that the path of the light is almost parallel to the surface of the object. When used on paintings, this makes brushstrokes, grit, and dust obvious. On statues, the effect is more subtle. Brush-strokes are impossible to see, but because different paints wear off at different rates, the stone is raised in some places Ė protected from erosion by its cap of paint Ė and lowered in others. Elaborate patterns become visible.
Ultraviolet is also used to discern patterns. UV light makes many organic compounds fluoresce. Art dealers use UV lights to check if art has been touched up, since older paints have a lot of organic compounds and modern paints have relatively little. On ancient Greek statues, tiny fragments of pigment still left on the surface glow bright, illuminating more detailed patterns.
Once the pattern is mapped, there is still the problem of figuring out which paint colors to use. A series of dark blues will create a very different effect than gold and pink. Even if enough pigment is left over so that the naked eye can make out a color, a few thousand years can really change a statueís complexion. Thereís no reason to think that color seen today would be anything like the hues the statues were originally painted.
There is a way around this dilemma. The colors may fade over time, but the original materials Ė plant and animal-derived pigments, crushed stones or shells Ė still look the same today as they did thousands of years ago. This can also be discovered using light.
Infrared and X-ray spectroscopy can help researchers understand what the paints are made of, and how they looked all that time ago. Spectroscopy relies on the fact that atoms are picky when it comes to what kind of incoming energy they absorb. Certain materials will only accept certain wavelengths of light. Everything else they reflect. Spectroscopes send out a variety of wavelengths, like scouts into a foreign land. Inevitably, a few of these scouts do not come back. By noting which wavelengths are absorbed, scientists can determine what materials the substance is made of. Infrared helps determine organic compounds. X-rays, because of their higher energy level, donít stop for anything less than the heavier elements, like rocks and minerals. Together, researchers can determine approximately what color a millennia-old statue was painted.
Read the full article at: io9.com
True Colors - Smithsonianmag.com
Smithsonian.com Photo Gallery - True Colors (Images)
A 26-foot-tall Anubis Statue Installed at Denver International Airport
Colossal statue of Thoth discovered at temple of Amenhotep III in Luxor
Statues Prompt íSuicideí Emergency Calls
Ancient figurines were toys not mother goddess statues
Greek Fisherman Nets Ancient Statue
6th Century Buddha Statue Found In Swedish Viking Hoard
Huge statue of Roman ruler found
Latest News from our Front Page
Austrian Villagers to Refugees: Please Don't Fear Krampus
The integration of Syrian and Iraqi refugees is facing a terrifying challenge in rural Austria this holiday season.
Officials in the village of Virgen worried about how new arrivals from the Middle East would react to the local tradition of meeting so-called "Christmas Devils" who pretend to abduct kids.
"In the first week of December, the good, gift-bringing St. Nicholas wanders through ...
Feminist blogger uses her vaginal yeast to make sourdough bread
It's a tale that might ensure you never look the same way at a humble loaf again.
When a feminist blogger found herself suffering from a vaginal yeast infection, she made the unusual decision to use the unwanted bodily fluid as an ingredient for making bread.
Zoe Stavri, who writes under the title Another Angry Woman, has documented the details of her ...
Apple could be working on virtual reality projector, patents show
The company has been granted a patent for an ‚Äėadaptive projector‚Äô, which can project images onto surfaces
Apple could be working on a new augmented reality projector, which would allow it to make computers without even adding a screen.
The company has been granted a patent for an ‚Äúadaptive‚ÄĚ projector, reports Patently Apple. The patents seem to refer to a tool ...
83-year-old Romanian Jewess crowned "Miss Holocaust Survivor" in Israel
83-year-old Romanian born Rita Berkowitz wins the one-of-a-kind charity beauty pageant
Romania-born woman who immigrated to Israel won the third annual Miss Holocaust Survivors Beauty Pageant in Haifa.
Rita Berkowitz, 83, was chosen among the 16 European natives who participated in the contest on Tuesday. She came to Israel in 1951.
Hairdressers and makeup artists primped and pampered the contestants before they took ...
North Vancouver schools get first gender-neutral washroom
In a first for North Vancouver schools, Seycove secondary has opened a gender-neutral washroom.
The move is a step in the right direction and recognition that not every student feels welcome in the binary male- or female-designated washrooms, according to Brian Wilson, president of Seycove‚Äôs Queer Straight Alliance Club, which lobbied the school administration for the washroom.
High school is already a ...
|More News » |