Though today we picture Greek statues as gray or white, they were originally very colorful. The paints have simply worn away after thousands of years. Still, their original colors can be recovered by studying light. Though it would seem like there’s not much to extrapolate from the statues in their current state, speculation actually plays a much smaller role here to science. 

The original colors of the statues are uncovered simply by shining a light on them. The technique is called “raking light.” A lamp is positioned in a certain way to shine light on the object- this is the same process used to see brushstrokes on paintings. By doing this, the colors and patterns originally on these statues can be made slightly visible. UV light also helps to pick out the fragments of pigment left on the surface of the statues.

With these techniques, it’s possible to determine exactly how a statue used to look, and more importantly how it was meant to look. What do you think? Do you like the way they were, or do you like what time has done to them?