Illuminating Rome’s Sculptural Past, Literally

The surviving sculptures of Ancient Rome are in their own natural capacity beautiful examples of craftsmanship and aesthetic wonders. However, most surviving sculptures completely lack (though sometimes have traces of) their original painted color. Such color was no doubt essential to the total vibrancy of the original work, and thus its loss is sorely missed by those who wish to see Roman sculpture in its all of its original artistic splendor.

Before Illumination

In 2009, Maurizio Anastasi, head of the technical office of Rome’s Superintendency for Archaeology, made the dream of seeing Roman sculpture in its original form a reality. Using sophisticated (and reversible) lighting technologies, Anastasi “repainted” one of Ancient Rome’s most glorious of relief sculptures, the Trajan Column.

After Illumination

Constructed in 113 A.D. in honor of the Emperor Trajan, the column and its magnificent relief sculpture were originally, as Anastasi puts it, “a carnival of color”. In an effort to display this to the Italian public (and also as part of a larger project to illuminate the entire Roman forum), Anastasi’s team strategically illuminated the column’s relief sculpture with the aide of “computer-controlled light projectors and high-definition films”. Thus, for brief intervals of time at night, visitors to the forum can take a moment to ‘step back in time’ and see the Trajan Column in the way that it was originally presented to Ancient Rome.



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