Raiders of the Lost Paint

The ancient sites we see today are a shadow of their former self. Not only in terms of their size and scale, but also their appearance. An important component of any city or town that is often forgotten is colour. The visual presence of a building or monument transforms it into a living thing.

Over the millennia, colour has been stripped from many ancient buildings and statues. When these were re-discovered in the Rennaissance, their monochrome aesthetic inspired the visual décor of the time. But when first constructed, these structures would have been elaborately decorated and appeared, to the modern viewer, eccentric. The awe-inspiring site of Pompeii gives a glimpse of the impressive interior colour palette used by the Romans. Bright reds clash with deep yellows, with many walls covered in scenes from daily life.

At Lithodomos VR we recreate, as much as possible, an honest representation of the past. When the information is available we add colour detail into our scenes. For example, the Odieon of Agrippa has been re-created with intense red walls and a polychrome floor, which was taken from the archaeological site report (Thompson 1950, 31–141). Coloured marble and mosaic patterns at sites like Hadrian’s Villa or the Baths of Caracalla also highlight a rich history of elaborate colour use.

So, next time someone shows you picture of the Parthenon from their holiday, imagine the brightly coloured temple that stood proudly on top of the Acropolis.

Simon J. Young