Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Become an OU student

Download this course

Share this free course

Health and wellbeing in the ancient world
Health and wellbeing in the ancient world

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

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.

Modern reconstruction of a Trojan archer from the Temple of Aphaia.
Figure 4 Replica of a Trojan archer from the Temple of Aphaia, Aegin

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.

Statue of a young woman wearing a peplos, or heavy woolen garment, over her chiton.
Figure 5 The Peplos Kore

Activity 2

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?

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).