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 300 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.
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.
Update on the MSCA funded project, "Colorful Indications of (Ex)Change" - Noricum in the Roman Imperial period and Late Antiquity
In September 2020, Dr. Alexandra S. Rodler, a post-doctoral fellow at the Austrian Archaeological Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, was awarded a European Commission’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship for a period of two years, to investigate the provenance of pigments used for Roman wall paintings, as well as pigment production and organization of production. The project aims to test whether local production was relevant or importation can be linked to material quality, whether specific source regions and trade contacts can be identified and if supply and technology changed over time, between sites and across regions.
With a focus on wall paintings, specifically cinnabar and Egyptian blue pigments, including their archaeological and historical context as well as mineralogical and geochemical information, this project tests the potential of ancient pigments as powerful indicators of trade, cultural and technological exchange during Roman Imperial period and Late Antiquity in Noricum after it became part of the Roman Empire. This will be compared to contemporary samples from central Italian sites.
These wall painting fragments and raw pigments are first characterized by in-situ pXRF analysis at local museum collections to identify samples for further mineralogical and geochemical analysis at the University of Vienna and collaborating institutions. Parallel to the pigment analysis, potential raw materials for pigment production are also analysed and will be integrated into a provenance map.
To follow the project and learn more about the team and the institutions involved, see: https://alexandrasrodler.com/colorinxchange/ or follow on https://twitter.com/ColorinXchange
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 845075.
Wall painting fragment with Egyptian blue.
Image © A.S. Rodler (Austrian Academy of Sciences).
Cinnabar ore from Monte Amiata, Italy.
Image © A.S. Rodler (Austrian Academy of Sciences).
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Joanne Dyer (Website manager) - Colour Scientist, Department of Scientific Research, British Museum, London.
Mark B. Abbe - Associate Professor of Ancient Art, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.
Brigitte Bourgeois - Emeritus curator, Centre de recherche et de restauration des musées de France (C2RMF), Paris.
Hariclia Brecoulaki - Senior researcher, Institute of Historical Research, The National Hellenic Research Foundation (EIE), Athens.
Paolo Liverani - Professor for Ancient Topography, Dipartimento SAGAS (Storia, Archeologia, Geografia, Arte e Spettacolo), Università di Firenze, Florence.
Jan Stubbe Østergaard - Emeritus Research Curator, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.
Giovanni Verri - Conservation scientist, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Stephan Zink - Researcher, Department of Building Archaeology, German Archaeological Institute, Berlin.
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