Jan Stubbe Østergaard
The term “polychromy” has been in use since the early 19th century to denote the presence of any element of colour in Greek and Roman sculpture. The evidence for such polychromy is literary, epigraphical, archaeological, and archeometric; research on the subject therefore requires collaboration between the humanities, conservation science, and natural science. Such research should go hand in hand with the investigation of the polychromy of Greek and Roman architecture, since it is symbiotically related to sculpture, technically as well as visually.
Knowledge of Greek and Roman sculptural polychromy is still very uneven. Scholars have focused on stone sculpture, and most research has been directed towards the Archaic, Early Classical, Hellenistic, and Imperial Roman periods. For terracottas, the Hellenistic period has enjoyed the most research, while investigation of the polychromy of bronze sculpture has only recently begun.
The scientific research methodology applied concerns the materials and techniques employed. The main colouring agents are paints, metals, and coloured marbles. Pigments are based on inorganic and organic materials applied with proteins, wax, or plant gums as binding media. Metals used are bronze, copper, silver, and gold. A range of coloured marbles came into use in the Roman Imperial period, but in all periods, assorted materials such as semi-precious stones and metals were used for inlaid details and attached objects like jewelry and weapons.
The element of colour in Greek and Roman sculpture is of varied character and is found on works in all formats and materials, in a wide spectrum of contexts and functions covering the chronological and geographical history of sculpture in Classical Antiquity. No matter the period, sculptures had an element of colour; this element was not just a decorative addition but integral to the meaning and message of the sculpture. A logical relationship existed between the sculptural forms and their polychromy. A major division in the history of sculptural polychromy is therefore congruent with that found between the highly stylized forms of Archaic sculpture, on the one hand, and the naturalism dominant from the Classical period to the onset of Late Antiquity, on the other hand.
The list of sculptures on which remains of colour have been observed, but not analyzed, is long. Many are included in Reuterswärd’s 1960 monograph, which constitutes the point of departure for studies since then. This article is, however, based on the results of interdisciplinary investigation, an activity still in its infancy.
The Antikythera Mechanism (National Archaeological Museum, Athens, inv. X 15087) was a Hellenistic gearwork device for displaying astronomical and chronological functions. Substantial but highly corroded remains of the instrument were recovered from an ancient shipwreck (see Figure 1).
The most complex scientific instrument to have survived from antiquity, it resembled the sphaerae or planetaria described by Cicero (1) and other Greco-Roman authors. The date of its construction is in dispute but must have been earlier than the middle of the 1st century
Gregory S. Aldrete
John R. Clarke
This article treats visual representations of sex between human beings, hypersexual humans and demigods, and phalli in terms of their meanings for ancient Greeks and Romans and their viewing contexts. Building on the research of scholars holding that contemporary concepts of sexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality have no bearing on ancient attitudes and can only lead to anachronistic judgements if applied to the ancient world, the aim is to combine the evidence of classical texts with that of visual representations to determine the meanings of so-called erotica for ancient viewers. Many portrayals deemed pornographic by modern standards constituted proper decoration, whether they appear in the frescoed interiors of Roman houses or on drinking vessels, mirrors, and gemstones. Artists also created hypersexual creatures such as pygmies, Priapus, and Hermaphroditus primarily as apotropaia; representations of the phallus and of phallic deities installed on the streets and in the shops of cities had a similar apotropaic function.
Vladimir F. Stolba
Panskoye I is one of the most prominent and best-studied settlements in the rural territory of Chersonesus on the Tarkhankut Peninsula (north-western Crimea). Founded in the late 5th century
Kelly L. Wrenhaven
Crowns and wreaths (στέφανος, στεφάνη) were worn by Greeks for a variety of ceremonial purposes: by priests when *sacrificing, by members of dramatic choruses, orators and symposiasts (see