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 11th International Round Table on Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture was held in Rome between the 9th - 12th November, 2022 and hosted jointly by the Musei Capitolini and the Museo Nazionale Romano.
We wish to thank the organizers at the host institutions for their outstanding efforts and helpfulness. Particularly, from the Musei Capitolini and Centrale Montemartini; the Sovrintendente Claudio Parisi Presicce, and Nadia Agnoli and Eloisa Dodero, and from the Museo Nazionale Romano; the Director Stephane Verger, and Chiara Giobbe and Agnese Pergola.
For more information, including links to the pdfs of the posters presented at the poster session on 12/11, see:
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PRT12 - Save the Date!
The 12th International Round Table on Polychromy in Ancient Sculpture and Architecture will be held at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, California, USA, during the week of 18th November, 2024.
More details to follow soon!
Project News! IPERION HS MOLAB campaign on the Hunt Frieze on the façade of the Tomb of Philip II at Aigai
From 8 to 27 March 2023 the first phase of the interdisciplinary, non-destructive scientific investigation of the Hunt Frieze that adorns the façade of the Tomb of Philip II took place at the archaeological site of Aigai (UNESCO monument). The study is part of the research project ReVis (Principal Investigator: Hariclia Brecoulaki), funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (HFRI). The project is carried out by the Institute of Historical Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, in collaboration with the XRF Laboratory of the Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics – National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos”, and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Emathia – Ministry of Culture and Sports. In terms of research infrastructure, ReViS is also supported by the MOLAB (Mobile Laboratory)/IPERION HS consortium. The collaborating institutions are the XRAYlab of the Istituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale (ISPC), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) in Catania, the Centro di Eccellenza SMAArt, Università degli studi and the Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie Chimiche “Giulio Natta”, CNR, in Perugia.
The research project entitled “The Hunt Frieze of Tomb II at Vergina, Greece: A Novel Interdisciplinary Approach for the Scientific Investigation and Revisualization of a Painted Masterpiece of the Classical World” is supported by the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I.) under the “2nd Call for H.F.R.I. Research Projects to support Faculty Members & Researchers” (Project Number: 4366).
XRAYlab, Istituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale (ISPC), Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) in Catania on the scaffolding in front of the Tomb of Philip II at Vergina.
Image © H. Brecoulaki/Ephorate of Antiquities of Emathia, Ministry of Culture and Sports.
“Tracking Trajectories: Projecting Polychromy onto a Roman Relief from a Scottish Castle”
Heritage 2023, 6(4), 3722-3744
Read more here: https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage6040197
Published online - 14/04/2023.
"New Evidence about the Polychromy of Early Imperial Cycle from the Augusteum of Rusellae (Tuscany)"
Paolo Liverani, Susanna Bracci, Roberta Iannaccone, Sara Lenzi and Donata Magrini
Heritage 2023, 6(4), 3385-3401.
Read more here: https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage6040179
Published online - 23/03/2023.
"Color and Light: A Hellenistic Terracotta Figurine of a Maenad from Myrina"
Brigitte Bourgeois, Giovanni Verri and Violaine Jeammet
Heritage 2023, 6(3), 3005-3024.
Read more here: https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage6030160
Published - 12/03/2023.
"The Gosford Wellhead: An Ancient Roman Masterpiece"
Seán Hemingway, with a contribution by Dorothy H. Abramitis, Federico Carò, and Adriana Rizzo
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v.80, no. 3 (Winter, 2023)
Read online or download the PDF, here:
Published - 08/02/23
"Seeing Color in Classical Art: Theory, Practice, and Reception, from Antiquity to the Present"
Jennifer M. S. Stager
Published by Cambridge University Press
The remains of ancient Mediterranean art and architecture that have survived over the centuries present the modern viewer with images of white, the color of the stone often used for sculpture. Antiquarian debates and recent scholarship, however, have challenged this aspect of ancient sculpture. There is now a consensus that sculpture produced in the ancient Mediterranean world, as well as art objects in other media, were, in fact, polychromatic. Color has consequently become one of the most important issues in the study of classical art. Jennifer Stager's landmark book makes a vital contribution to this discussion. Analyzing the dyes, pigments, stones, earth, and metals found in ancient art works, along with the language that writers in antiquity used to describe color, she examines the traces of color in a variety of media. Stager also discusses the significance of a reception history that has emphasized whiteness, revealing how ancient artistic practice and ancient philosophies of color significantly influenced one another.
Published - 25/11/2022.
"Polychromy in Practice: Casting Colour onto Roman Artwork" - Session #30 at EAA Belfast 2023.
30th August - 2nd September, 2023.
Louisa Campbell (United Kingdom), University of Glasgow
Gabrielle Kremer (Austria), Austrian Archaeological Institute
This session will explore how new interpretive frameworks and the application of emerging techniques on Roman statuary, sculpted reliefs, inscriptions, artefacts and architectural features have altered their perception and facilitated their authentic reconstruction using cutting-edge digital technologies. Contributions are welcomed from researchers considering all aspects of polychromy practice in Roman contexts, including those with a focus on frontier contexts where the dynamics between cultural traditions, artistic skills, raw materials and availability of pigments may differ greatly from other provincial settings.
Further details of the session can be found here.
A list of accepted abstracts can be found here (see Session #30).
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