1.4 The colours of the past
When you look at the physical remains of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds today, the first material that comes to mind may be stone, and the first colour white. The statue in Figure 4, in its bright colours, may be very surprising. But such reconstructions are based on good evidence from the traces of colour which remain even today.
Figure 5 shows another statue called the Peplos Kore: korê is the Greek word for a ‘young woman’, and a peplos is the garment she is wearing. The original statue still shows traces of the paint used to make her look beautiful, from which it is possible to tell that she used to be coloured very brightly. Eyes on ancient statues were often inlaid, and for this Kore her eyes were found separately.
Search online for images of the Peplos Kore, which show how she would originally have looked. What is your reaction to these reconstructions? Had you seen anything like this before, and if so, where? What can you find out about the process which ensures that modern scholars can be confident the colours are correct?