Images of the Parthenon as a stark, white structure set against an azure sky will have to change. Researchers have found the first evidence of coloured paints covering its elaborate sculptures.
Giovanni Verri, a researcher at the British Museum in London, developed an imaging technique that is ultra-sensitive to traces of an ancient pigment called Egyptian blue. He reported on his use of photo-induced luminescence imaging at the recent SPIE Europe Optical Metrology symposium held in Munich.
Verri's paper analyzed the Egyptian "Fayum portraits" and a wall painting from the tomb of the Nasonii in Rome. Both are part of the British Museum collection and date from the Antonine period (AD 100-200).
Verri's just-published paper is entitled "Application of visible-induced luminescence imaging to the examination of museum objects" (Open access for a limited time from the SPIE Digital Library.)
New test reveals Parthenon's hidden colour (New Scientist)
Blog post from author of the New Scientist article