W. Jeffrey Tatum
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.
Nathan T. Arrington
Art was an essential component of funeral practices in ancient Greece. From inexpensive vases deposited with the dead to monumental statues standing over tombs, graves are one of the most important sources of evidence for Greek material culture. These archaeological contexts provide data on the chronology and regional variation of Greek art. The funeral setting allows scholars to study the relation of art to its social, political, and cultural contexts. Literary sources, such as texts that describe burial rituals or attitudes toward the dead, complement this study. The picture, detailed as it is, remains selective. Some physical materials, such as textiles, do not survive well in the archaeological record, despite their ancient value, and poor or simple graves may remain invisible to excavators. The looting of archaeological sites and the absence of detailed publications from excavated sites preclude scholarly access to the full spectrum of material culture in funeral settings.
Ancient Oplontis was a seaside area, located approximately five kilometers to the west of Pompeii. The name Oplontis appears in only one source, the Tabula Peutingeriana, a 12th-century copy of a Roman map. From that map, archaeologists have argued that ancient Oplontis lies under the modern town of Torre Annunziata. In the area of Torre Annunziata known as Le Mascatelle, excavations have revealed two major sites, Oplontis A and B. Although knowledge of the area dates back to the late 16th century, when the track of the Sarno Canal cut through the southern part of Oplontis Villa A, modern excavation at the villa did not begin until 1964. Work at Oplontis B began in 1974 when construction on a new school discovered evidence of the ancient structure. Though near to each other, the two sites represent very different buildings. Oplontis A was a luxury villa perched on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples with sophisticated architecture, spectacular wall painting, sculptures, manicured gardens, and a sixty-meter swimming pool. Oplontis B was a large commercial building that was used for the exportation of wine.