a project for a small monument. architectural colour


a project for a small monument. architectural colour. there’s is not much conclusive evidence the early monuments used colour, however a mesolithic painting kit was discovered in south africa preparing red and yellow ochre, complete with brushes mixing pots and evidences an early paint chemistry.

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the archaeology relating to the use of colour is insufficiently advanced to give a definitive answer to the question. ‘were megaliths painted’. however the use of paint goes back hundreds of thousands of years, a 100,000-year-old stone age painting kit, including sea snail shell for mixing and storing pigments, have been discovered in the blombos cave in south africa. two sets of implements for preparing red and yellow ochres to decorate artefacts, the stone and bone tools for crushing, mixing and applying the pigments were uncovered alongside the shells of giant sea snails that had been used as rudimentary mixing pots.  other bones, including the shoulder blade of a seal, were among the ingredients for making the pigments. evidence suggests the bones were probably heated in a fire and the marrow fat used as a binder for the paint. this casts a whole new light on early homo sapiens and their capacity to carry out levels of sophistication in this kind of early chemistry, at least 40,000 to 50,000 years before any other known examples. 

colour played a significant role in ancient times. our ancestors began to paint in caves during the stone age from 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. they have been found on all continents that show how animals were crucial for the survival of human beings in the prehistoric era. the first cave was discovered in altamira, galicia (northwest spain), in 1875, 30 km west of the city santander. in the tholos of the cave, many huge animals were painted with black and red ochre. the outlines and black areas were made with charcoal.

it is believed that many statues and monuments that are colourless today, like the temple of aphaea on the greek island of aegina (500 bc), were painted in whole or in part and has degraded over time. a vases from around 360–350 bc show a man painting the statue of hercules and many ceramic figurines, temples, and statues were decorated with intense colours.

colors in ancient sculptures/statues and monuments can be detected optically without sampling by using radiation techniques such as ultraviolet fluorescence (uvf) and vaporizing iodine-labeling (vil) techniques. the main colours used in antiquity were red, yellow, green, blue, and black, with the first synthetic colours used in ancient egypt.

so at this stage we cannot say with any certainty, whether colour was used to embellish early monuments, but certainly colour played an important part in the arsenal of the prehistoric artisans and monument builders.