Greek and Roman statues in colour - as the ancients intended

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The Independent Online

Modern science is bringing the statues of the ancient world back to life in colours no one ever imagined.

Modern science is bringing the statues of the ancient world back to life in colours no one ever imagined.

An exhibition that opened this week at the Vatican Museums shows the fruit of years of research by the Vatican and two other top European museums, proving that the ancient Greeks and Romans lived not in a world of cold white marble gods and goddesses but amid a blazing riot of colours.

The statues as they have been seen for centuries are displayed alongside their replicas painted as the scholars now believe they were originally presented. The famous statue of Emperor Augustus, for example, discovered in Rome's Villa di Livia, now wears a scarlet toga, a variegated red and blue tunic, and armour decorated with multi-coloured images of gods; eyes, hair and lips are also painted.

Paolo Liverani of the Vatican Museums told Il Messaggero newspaper, "Thanks to the most modern technologies, including ultraviolet photography, microscopic examination and clinical analysis, it has been possible to recover, in the originals of these sculptures, abundant traces of colour."

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