Herculaneum painted statue being restored

This makes interesting reading, but all he time I long for a picture. If anyone has found one, please let me know.

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Herculaneum, 13 Jan.(AKI) – A 2000-year-old Roman statue found near the ruins of Pompeii’s ancient port of Herculaneum, south of Naples, is being restored with the latest technology by a team of British scientists. The statue was discovered by researchers near the coastal town, destroyed by Vesuvius, the same volcano that wiped out nearby Pompeii in 79 A.D.

Scientists from the University of Warwick, the University of Southampton and the Herculaneum Conservation Project, which includes Italian and British archeological experts, are using high-resolution laser scanning, computer graphics and the latest digital technology to restore the statue.

The statue is believed to represent a wounded Amazon warrior, complete with painted hair and eyes preserved by the volcanic ash that buried the town.

Experts from the University of Warwick, Southampton and Herculaneum are now scanning, modelling and digitally recreating the Amazon statue.

“The statue is an incredible find,” said Mark Williams, an expert in laser measurement. “Although its age alone makes it valuable, it is unique because it has retained the original painted surface, preserved under the volcanic material that buried Herculaneum.”

Williams used state-of-the-art equipment to accurately measure (within 0.05 of a millimetre) every surface of the bust and transferred that information to a computer model.

His colleague Greg Gibbons then used rapid prototyping to create a three-dimensional model of the head including the smallest detail.

Experts in archaeological computing from Southampton, led by Graeme Earl, then used a novel form of photography to capture an extremely detailed record of the texture and colour of the statue’s painted surfaces.

“Cutting edge techniques are vital to the recording of cultural heritage material, since so much remains unstudied or too fragile to analyse,” Earl said.

“Our work at Southampton attempts to bridge the gap between computing and archaeology in bringing the best that colleagues in engineering have to offer to unique artifacts from our past.”

The Southampton team is now digitally remodelling and repainting the sculpture. They are using techniques derived from the film industry to recreate the original carved and painted surfaces.

In the final step, Alan Chalmers, an expert in ultra-realistic graphics, will apply techniques to the computer model to exactly reproduce the lighting and environmental conditions under which the painted statue would have originally been created and displayed.

This visualisation will give archaeologists an otherwise impossible view of how the original statue may have looked in its original context.

“Our work will be used both for educational and research purposes to give people new insights into the statue’s design, to provide a record for conservators, and to explore how it may have been appreciated over 2000 years ago,” Chalmers said.

The Herculaneum Conservation Project was established with The British School at Rome to support the local officials at the Soprintendenza Archeologica di Pompei, to safeguard and conserve the ancient site of Herculaneum and its artefacts.

Greek and Roman ankles

From a letter to The Times by R. J. Briggs

Several years ago I was told by the curator of a museum in Athens how to
identify an Ancient Greek statue from a Roman one. Because of the
mountainous topography of Greece the models used by Ancient Greek sculptors
were inevitably thin-ankled, those from Rome thick-ankled; climbing up steep
hills stretches the Achilles tendon. We then toured the museum identifying
the origin of statues using ankles as our criteria.