Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Temple of Venus (Pompeii): A study of the pigments and painting techniques

We report here on a study of 57 fragments of wall painting excavated from the Temple of Venus (Pompeii). These samples were characterised by a wide range of analytical methods. Data showed that the palette is varied, although not so broad as that found in other buildings in Pompeii, and is consistent with pigments used elsewhere in Pompeii and in the Roman Empire. It is composed of: natural earths, minerals and rare artificial pigments.

Paintings are made up of thin paint layers (0.01-0.10 mm thick) strongly adhering to the underlying preparation layer. Nonetheless, in some cases thicker layers (up to 0.40 mm) were recognised, often spread on other previous painting layers. Samples were also compared with the microstratigraphic criteria developed in Piovesan (2009) to distinguish wall-painting techniques. This comparison demonstrated that both fresco and lime painting techniques were adopted.

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