Selected objects

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The purpose of this website is to develop a broader public awareness of polychromy studies. By using this online service you will be able to gain knowledge of the current research on a museum or institute near you. It is a resource dedicated to research on the use of colour on sculptures and buildings in the ancient Mediterranean world.

On this website you will find an introduction to the field. It also provides information on the history of polychromy scholarship and updated information on current research. The user has access to a database of literature on ancient polychromy and of monuments known to have traces of their original colouring.

Read more here: About

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Are you interested in registering as a professional user of the Tracking Colour website?

The bibliographical database is available in full to all users of the website. The data held in the objects database is however not fully accessible. Full access is limited to professional users.
Read more here: Registration application

Transmission and Transformation

A three-year program of research collaboration is now under way between the British Museum and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, running until the end of 2016. The project is entitled “Transmission and Transformation: ancient polychromy in an architectural context”, and will focus on how Greek architectural sculpture was influenced by Near Eastern and Egyptian traditions.

Interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeology, conservation and natural sciences is at the heart of the venture. The world class collection of sculpture and architecture in both museums makes the British Museum and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek uniquely qualified to provide research results of a high caliber.

We are looking forward to the exciting results of this collaboration!

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Surprising discovery of gold leaf on an Egyptian palm-leaf capital

The 87 cm-high capital comes from a column in the palace of the pharaoh Apries in Memphis. Apries was a member of the 26th Dynasty and reigned 589 – 568 BCE. At first sight the capital appears to bear traces of green paint, but technical examination provides a new and exciting insight into the painting processes of the past. Surface microscopy has documented that the capital was initially painted a greenish-blue colour to be partially or completely covered in gold leaf at some later point in time.


Preliminary report 5 (2013) is available for download

See also Preliminary report 1 (2009), Preliminary report 2 (2010), Preliminary report 3 (2011) and Preliminary report 4 (2012).