Archive for oktober, 2016


Secrets of Greek artists revealed: X-rays show hidden layers of paint on a stunning 2,500-year-old vase

  • X-ray scanning was used on an Athenian oil-flask from around 500 BC
  • The results showed that a calcium colour additive was used for white
  • This is an additional step that was previously unknown  
Researchers have used a new x-ray scanning technique on an ancient Greek vase to reveal layers of hidden paint beneath the surface.

The results raise questions about how ancient pottery was produced, and whether previously unknown additional steps were involved.

The researchers now hope to use the x-ray scanning method on other materials that could be used in batteries or electronics.

The chemical map shows calcium matching the white areas in the driver’s tunic and dot accents, and iron (red) and potassium (blue) matching the black of the horse and figure silhouettes.

The findings come as a result of a growing collaboration between the Cantor Arts Centre and Stanford University, both in California.

About two years ago, the Arts Centre introduced a fellowship for science students interested in studying art conservation.

Susan Roberts-Manganelli, director of the Learning Lab said: ‘We can do a lot of testing here at the Cantor.

‘But some studies need more robust collaboration and more powerful X-rays to actually get answers to our questions.’

One such study, done by student Kevin Chow, took a deeper look at the techniques of the ancient Greek potters, which are difficult to reproduce and not entirely understood.

The study focused on an Athenian oil-flask, called a lekythos, from 500-480 BC.

Using a technique called synchrotron X-ray fluorescence, the team was able to uncover surprising steps in the production process that challenge the conventional understanding.

3960283F00000578-3837808-image-a-11_1476436342282.jpgThe scan produced a chemical map, which showed that a calcium-based colour additive was used for white, which would have added an additional step

Jody Maxim, who supervised Mr Chow’s study, said: ‘Under what they thought was a single coat, they found other instances of painting that the naked eye could not see.

The study focused on an Athenian oil-flask, called a lekythos from 500-480 BC

‘It was thrilling to learn that a very humble vase – hundreds of these were produced for the Festival of Athena every four years – shows certain standards of aesthetic excellence.’

The scan produced a chemical map, which showed that a calcium-based colour additive was used for white, which would have added an additional step.

It also raised questions about the firing process, due to the absence of zinc – which was presumed to be key in achieving black colours in the heating process.

The researchers now hope to use the same scanning technique on other materials.

Apurva Mehta, a scientist from Stanford, said: ‘We had to find a way to see all layers of the Greek pot in detail, which is something we want to do for other materials that might be used in batteries or electronics.’

A custom-made mount held the delicate pot during a rotational scan using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence

A custom-made mount held the delicate pot during a rotational scan using synchrotron X-ray fluorescence

By Shivali Best For Mailonline

Western contact with China began long before Marco Polo, experts say

_91770731_soldiers_getty624Greek artisans may have trained those who made the Terracotta Warriors(Getty Images)

China and the West were in contact more than 1,500 years before European explorer Marco Polo arrived in China, new findings suggest.

Archaeologists say inspiration for the Terracotta Warriors, found at the Tomb of the First Emperor near today’s Xian, may have come from Ancient Greece.

They also say ancient Greek artisans could have been training locals there in the Third Century BC.

Polo’s 13th Century journey to China was the first to be well-documented.

However, Chinese historians recorded much earlier visits by people thought by some to have been emissaries from the Roman Empire during the Second and Third Centuries AD.

«We now have evidence that close contact existed between the First Emperor’s China and the West before the formal opening of the Silk Road. This is far earlier than we formerly thought,» said Senior Archaeologist Li Xiuzhen, from the Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum Site Museum.

A separate study shows European-specific mitochondrial DNA has been found at sites in China’s western-most Xinjiang Province, suggesting that Westerners may have settled, lived and died there before and during the time of the First Emperor.

Qin Shi Huang lived between 259-210BC and became the first emperor of a unified China

Farmers first discovered the 8,000 terracotta figures buried less than a mile from the tomb of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang in 1974.

However there was no tradition of building life-sized human statues in China before the tomb was created. Earlier statues were simple figurines about 20cm (7.9ins) in height.

To explain how such an enormous change in skill and style could have happened, Dr Xiuzhen believes that influences must have come from outside China.

«We now think the Terracotta Army, the Acrobats and the bronze sculptures found on site have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptures and art,» she said.

Prof Lukas Nickel from the University of Vienna says statues of circus acrobats recently found at the First Emperor’s tomb support this theory.

 The findings feature in a new BBC documentary

He believes the First Emperor was influenced by the arrival of Greek statues in Central Asia in the century following Alexander the Great, who died in 323BC.

«I imagine that a Greek sculptor may have been at the site to train the locals,» he said.

Other discoveries include new evidence that the First Emperor’s tomb complex is much bigger than first thought and 200 times bigger than Egypt’s Valley of the Kings.

They also include the mutilated remains of women, believed to have been high-ranking concubines of the First Emperor, and the skull of a man with a crossbow bolt embedded in it.

The skull is believed to have belonged to the First Emperor’s eldest son, thought to have been killed along with others during a power struggle after the emperor’s death.