The International Round Table on Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture or the “Polychromy Round Table” is a series of meetings dedicated to the study of the polychromy of ancient sculpture and architecture.
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 growing network of scholars has met on a series of occasions(see Past Meetings), first held annually and, since 2016, biennially.
The meetings have a strong tradition of providing an excellent opportunity for experts from a wide range of fields (archaeologists, architectural historians, scientists, conservators, museum and digital humanities professionals) to discuss new research in a stimulating multidisciplinary setting. Papers from a variety of perspectives are encouraged and cover many aspects of polychromy in ancient sculpture and architecture.
The first meeting of the Polychromy Round Table, held at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen in 2009, was made up of only 11 participants. By comparison, 2020's virtual meeting had more than 360 registrants.
Image © Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek
This website collects the experience of these productive and rich encounters at the Polychromy Round Table, in the form of past programmes, abstracts and published proceedings. It also aims to provide a focal point for this network and research community to share news on its investigations, publications and events.
In the inclusive spirit of the Polychromy Round Table and its network, this site also aims to reach out to 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. Contact us here or on email@example.com.
Latest information on the Polychromy Round Table meeting
The 12th International Round Table on Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture
Art & Science Unite! Interdisciplinary Polychromy Research
18 – 21 November 2024
at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
The Call for Papers is out now. The deadline is 15th January 2024.
For further information contact: PRT12@getty.edu
With a focus on the Parthenon sculptures, The Role of a Replica is a hands-on, interactive exhibition exploring the ways in which historical and artistic replicas can illuminate our lost history. The exhibition illustrates how these replicas are currently used to communicate the latest archeological discoveries and interpretations. Interactive displays teach museumgoers how molds and casts of fragments of ancient statuary can be used to reconstruct their original appearance within their original architectural context. It also shows how modern scientific investigations can reveal lost colors on ancient statuary. Plaster casts, archival materials, and other resources and technologies can help researchers to reconstruct fragmented sculptures.
For more information see the exhibit page:
Digital resources page:
Image courtesy of the Parthenon. Photo: Von Resich Photography.
Image courtesy of the Parthenon. Photo: Von Resich Photography.
"The goddess’ new clothes: the carving and polychromy of the Parthenon Sculptures"
Giovanni Verri, Hero Granger-Taylor, Ian Jenkins, Tracey Sweek, Katarzyna Weglowska and William Thomas Wootton
Read open-access here: https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2023.130
Published online - 11/10/2023.
"Beyond “Volute Capitals”: Materials, Meaning, and Adaptations of a Phoenician Motif"
Fanni Faegersten and Carolina López-Ruiz
Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, 2023, 11(2), 229-255.
Read more here: https://www.muse.jhu.edu/article/909073
Published online - 06/10/2023.
"The Colourant Mapping Project: approaching the evidence of colourant production in the Aegean during the Hellenistic and Roman Period through Kea, Kos and Rhodes"
Ariadne Kostomitsoupoulou-Marketou & Alexandra Rodler-Rørbo
Archaeol Anthropol Sci 2023, 15, 160.
Read more here: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-023-01849-7
Published online - 05/10/2023.
"Roman Clavus Decoration on Gallic Dress: A Reevaluation Based on New Discoveries"
Ursula Rothe, Anique Hamelink and Nicolas Delferrière
American Journal of Archaeology, 2023, 127(4), 545-562.
Read more here: https://doi.org/10.1086/725914
Published online - 13/09/2023.
“Investigating Colors and Techniques on the Wall Paintings of the ‘Tomb of the Philosophers’, an Early Hellenistic Macedonian Monumental Cist Tomb in Pella (Macedonia, Greece)”
Hariclia Brecoulaki, Giovanni Verri, Myrina Kalaitzi, Yannis Maniatis and Maria Lilimpaki-Akamati
Heritage 2023, 6(8), 5619-5647
Read more here: https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage6080296
Published online - 28/07/2023.
“Minerva in Colours: First Results on a Polychrome Roman Sculpture from Carnuntum (Pannonia)”
Gabrielle Kremer, Robert Linke, Georg Plattner, Eduard Pollhammer, Marina Brzakovic, Robert Krickl, Nirvana Silnovic and Václav Pitthard
Heritage 2023, 6(7), 5213-5241
Read more here: https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage6070277
Published online - 11/07/2023.
"Imperial Colors. The Roman Portrait Busts of Septimius Severus and Julia Domna"
J. Van Voorhis and M. Abbe (with J. G. Istrabadi)
Published by Giles, Ltd (London). In association with the S. and L. Eskenazi Museum of Art, University of Indiana. 2023.
A major new illustrated survey on two internationally significant Imperial Roman portrait busts. Imperial Colors focuses on the paired busts of Emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193-211) and his wife, Empress Julia Domna in the Eskenazi Museum of Art, two of the finest known examples of later Roman portrait sculpture. This book presents innovative multidisciplinary research.
Published - March 2023.
"Color and Meaning in the Art of Achaemenid Persia"
Published by Cambridge University Press
This volume investigates the use of polychromy in the art and architecture of ancient Iran. Focusing on Persepolis, the topic is explored within the context of the modern historiography of Achaemenid art and the scientific investigation of a range of works and monuments in Iran and in museums around the world. Nagel's study contextualizes scholarly efforts to retrieve aspects of ancient polychromies in Western Asia and interrogates current debates about the contemporary use of color in the architecture and sculpture in the ancient Mediterranean world, especially in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.
Some advance content is already available for download here.
Coming soon! - January 2024
Conference - Colour Matters: Exploring Colour and Chromatic Materialities in the Long Nineteenth Century (1798-1914), Trinity College, Oxford.
6th -8th December, 2023.
This major international event is part of the ERC-funded CHROMOTOPE project (2019-2024), which analyses the artistic and literary impact of the invention of the first aniline dyes across Europe. It is scheduled to coincide with the exhibition ‘Colour Revolution: Victorian Art, Fashion and Design’ (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 21 September 2023 – 18 February 2024), which will show how the chromatic innovations of the second half of the nineteenth century transformed the arts and culture of Britain and its Empire.
For more information about this conference, please visit:
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