Special Issue "Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture"

A special issue of Heritage (ISSN 2571-9408). This special issue belongs to the section "Museum and Heritage".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2022 | Viewed by 5880

Image courtesy of © Trustees of the British Museum

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Joanne Dyer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Scientific Research, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK
Interests: colours and colourants; pigments; dyes; textiles; sculpture; ancient painting techniques and craft practices; noninvasive techniques; multispectral imaging
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The subject of colour in the ancient world has long fascinated scholars. Within the realm of Classical art, historians stretching back to the late eighteenth century have periodically addressed the topic that sculpture and architectural elements from the Greco-Roman world, and beyond, were originally highly coloured.

Recently, interest in this field has once more been reinvigorated by the advent of new scientific techniques and methodologies, as well as by a community of diverse and interdisciplinary scholars, dedicated to the study of the polychromy of ancient sculpture and architecture.

Since 2009, this network of scholars has met on a series of occasions, known as the Polychromy Round Table, first held annually and, since 2016, biennially. In 2018, the event was hosted at the British Museum. In the tradition of previous round tables, it provided an excellent opportunity for experts from a wide range of fields (archaeologists, art historians, scientists, conservators and digital humanities professionals) to discuss new research in a stimulating multidisciplinary setting. Papers from a variety of perspectives were encouraged and covered many aspects of polychromy in ancient sculpture and architecture.

This Special Issue collects the contributions to this symposium but, in the inclusive spirit of the Polychromy Round Table and its network, also invites articles from other researchers who may be considering the subject of ancient polychromy from the Greco-Roman world or relevant comparative studies from their own interdisciplinary viewpoints, geographical areas and time periods.

Contributions are therefore invited on, but not restricted to, the following topics:

  • Studies on ancient polychromy from the Greco-Roman world and beyond;
  • Innovative approaches to the study and/or documentation of ancient polychromy (microscopy, spectroscopy, imaging);
  • Studies on ancient pigments, painting techniques and craftsmanship;
  • Investigation of organic molecules that may form part of painted surfaces; pigments, binders or finishes (such as waxes or varnishes);
  • Conservation aspects and challenges in treating the remains of ancient colour;
  • Novel strategies for the reconstruction and/or display of ancient polychrome pieces;
  • Documentation and preservation challenges when dealing with ancient polychrome finds on archaeological sites.

Dr. Joanne Dyer
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Heritage is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ancient polychromy
  • ancient pigments
  • ancient painting techniques and craftsmanship
  • conservation
  • reconstruction
  • non-invasive analysis
  • innovative methodologies
  • archaeology
  • documentation

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Ancient Restoration in Roman Polychromy: Detecting Aesthetic Changes?
Heritage 2022, 5(2), 829-848; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5020045 - 06 Apr 2022
Viewed by 750
Abstract
Few instances of material evidence for ancient colour restorations have been documented over the last 20 years, during which time the scientific approach to the study of polychromy has been defined. This article presents eight new cases of ancient restoration of colour from [...] Read more.
Few instances of material evidence for ancient colour restorations have been documented over the last 20 years, during which time the scientific approach to the study of polychromy has been defined. This article presents eight new cases of ancient restoration of colour from the Roman Imperial Age. By combining observations in visible and UV light and video microscopy with a micro-stratigraphic approach, MA-X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, and contextual archaeological data, we have observed evidence which could suggest an aesthetic change in the use of colour between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE: from polychrome and multitone effects to the use of monochromatic, flat, and uniform colour finishes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture)
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Article
Architectural Polychromy on the Athenian Acropolis: An In Situ Non-Invasive Analytical Investigation of the Colour Remains
Heritage 2022, 5(2), 756-787; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5020042 - 01 Apr 2022
Viewed by 751
Abstract
The preservation of the Athenian Acropolis monuments constitutes an ongoing top-priority national project of global significance and impact. The project concerning the analytical investigation of the polychromy of the Acropolis monuments presented in this paper was part of the Acropolis Restoration Service (YSMA) [...] Read more.
The preservation of the Athenian Acropolis monuments constitutes an ongoing top-priority national project of global significance and impact. The project concerning the analytical investigation of the polychromy of the Acropolis monuments presented in this paper was part of the Acropolis Restoration Service (YSMA) program (2011–2015), regarding the restoration of the two corners of the west entablature of the Parthenon, which exhibited severe static damage, and a parallel restoration program of the Propylaea. The scope of this research was to investigate the materials in the paint decoration remains on the monuments by applying, entirely in situ, numerous non-invasive techniques on selected architectural members of the Parthenon and the Propylaea. The research focused, mainly, on surfaces where traces of colour or decoration patterns were visible to the naked eye. Furthermore, surfaces that are referred to in the literature as decorated but that are currently covered with weathering crusts (of white or black colour) and/or layers of patina (of yellowish and orange-brown hue), were also examined. The techniques applied in situ on the Acropolis monuments were X-ray fluorescence, micro-Raman, and Fourier Transform InfraRed (FTIR) spectroscopic techniques, conducted with the use of handheld or portable instruments. The scientific data gathered in situ are discussed in this paper to enhance our knowledge of the architectural polychromy of the classical period. Further investigation by applying analytical techniques on a few selected micro-samples would be highly complementary to this present work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture)
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Article
An Insight into Gandharan Art: Materials and Techniques of Polychrome Decoration
Heritage 2022, 5(1), 488-508; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5010028 - 02 Mar 2022
Viewed by 1060
Abstract
Gandharan art developed in the Himalayan area in the early centuries CE. It has been investigated mostly from an iconographic point of view, missing, until very recently, a systematic technical investigation of materials and techniques. Recently our team began performing chemical analyses of [...] Read more.
Gandharan art developed in the Himalayan area in the early centuries CE. It has been investigated mostly from an iconographic point of view, missing, until very recently, a systematic technical investigation of materials and techniques. Recently our team began performing chemical analyses of the traces of the polychromy originally covering statues, reliefs and architectural decorations, to discover the ancient painting techniques and artistic technologies. This paper presents the results of the analytical investigation (optical microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry) of pigments, ground layers and binders of a new group of samples taken from stucco architectural decorations (2nd–3rd/4th centuries CE). The samples were collected directly at an archaeological site in the Swat Valley, ensuring the exact knowledge of their stratigraphic provenance, as well as the absence of any restoration treatment applied prior sampling. The results are discussed in the wider context of Gandharan polychromy investigated so far by our team, as found in sculptures and architectural decorations preserved in museums (in Italy and France) and in archaeological excavations in Pakistan. The aim of this research is to shed light on the materials and techniques of this Buddhist ancient art from this region and on the influences exerted on it from Eastern and Western artistic traditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture)
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Article
Portrait of an Etruscan Athletic Official: A Multi-Analytical Study of a Painted Terracotta Wall Panel
Heritage 2021, 4(4), 4596-4608; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage4040253 - 09 Dec 2021
Viewed by 1426
Abstract
The Getty’s Etruscan painted terracotta wall panel, Athletic Official, recently has been speculated to be associated with a Caeretan wall panel depicting a Discobolus based on a shared iconography. To better understand the materials and techniques used to create the Getty panel and [...] Read more.
The Getty’s Etruscan painted terracotta wall panel, Athletic Official, recently has been speculated to be associated with a Caeretan wall panel depicting a Discobolus based on a shared iconography. To better understand the materials and techniques used to create the Getty panel and investigate its relation to extant Etruscan painted terracotta panels, a multi-analytical study was conducted, using broadband visible, IR, and UV imaging, along with scanning MA-XRF, FORS, Raman, SEM-EDS, and XRD analytical techniques. The analytical results together with PCA analysis suggest the clay support of the Getty panel is most similar in composition to that of panels from Cerveteri. A manganese black was identified in the decorative scheme; not commonly employed, this appears to be an important marker for the workshop practice in Cerveteri. Most significantly, the use of MA-XRF scanning allowed for invisible ruling lines on the Athletic Official, presumably laid down at the earliest stages of the creation of the panel, to be visualized. Taken together, the results of this study provide new insights into Caeretan workshop practice as well as provide a framework for better understanding the design and execution of Etruscan polychromy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture)
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