Today, colours are with us every day, everywhere, and it’s as though we no longer see them.
We take them for granted. Yet we only have to think about photographs, films, television and
computers, all in black, white and grey until not so long ago, to realise that colours are not so
obvious and unchangeable but on the contrary, they have a history.
The Colours in History project, promoted by FILA S.p.A Fabbrica italiana di Lapis e affini,
intends to focus attention on colours in different times and human places. Their history is one
with that of human beings, whether it’s the narration of great events or comments on daily life,
art and war, religious rituals and power, fashion and luxury, and food and games in societies
of every epoch.
At the beginning of 2013, a partnership agreement between FILA and the Archaeological Heritage
Office of Salerno, Avellino, Benevento and Caserta was signed for the development and creation
of the first executive Colours in History project in the Salerno area. After a year’s work, the following
characterizes the results of the co-operation:
•the exhibition Colours in Ancient Paestum for the general public. Staged in the Museo Archeologico
Nazionale (National Archaeological Museum), it can be visited from 12 April to 30 November 2014;
the educational project Colours in History. Museums in the classroom consisting of the
creation of 400 USB flash drives containing video material and teaching cards made ad
hoc for teachers of the 4th and 5th years (age 9-11) of the primary schools in the Salerno
area. The Colours in History flash drives will take the Paestum Archaeological Museum into
classrooms and be sent to teachers upon request early in the 2014-2015 academic year.
The aim of Colours in Ancient Paestum is to show and narrate a short, very old, coloured story
of the 6th century BC, firstly in the Greek city of Poseidonia, then the Paistos of the Lucanians in
the 4th century. The town is currently known with the Latin name of Paestum and dates back to
the early 3rd century BC when it was taken over by the Romans.
Even today, one colour, white, prevails over the others in imagination relating to the Ancient
Greek and Roman civilisations. Most of the sculptures displayed in the museums of the world
are colourless while the ancient architecture, preserved over the millennia, shows us the bare
stone with which it was built. Yet those ancient worlds weren’t colourless, just like all human
civilisations. However, accustomed as we have been to the substantial lack of colour of classical
antiquity for many hundreds of years, we admire an elegant and self-possessed candour that
never existed. How would the Ancient Greeks or Romans react if they saw their white statues
displayed in our museums and what is left of their temples? We can understand this through the
words of Helen, Queen of Sparta, whose divine beauty caused the war between the Greeks
and Trojans. Challenging the centuries, Helen still talks to us today through the pages of the
tragedy that Euripides dedicated to her in 412 BC. Here, the queen, desperate because of
the misadventures caused by her beauty, hopes that she “suddenly becomes ugly, like a statue
whose colours are erased”. The ancients considered sculptures and architecture deprived of
colour as ugly, as the essential role of rendering the wealth of Nature, and so of life, to the
artefact was entrusted to the colour.
This is why Colours and Life are the two visual and conceptual centres around which the
exhibition has been created so that the importance of colour in the life of ancient Paestum can
be discovered and, at the same time, also its fragility, similar to those of our lives, because
colours deteriorate until they dissolve or only leave faint traces of their former existence.
The qualifying graphic sign of the general project Colours in History and the exhibition
Colours in Ancient Paestum is a large, coloured question mark. This is a powerful visual
metaphor encapsulating the main questions to be asked to know colours, like history, praising
doubt and a pressing invitation not to be content with appearances.
The exhibition Colours in Ancient Paestum: the Life of Colours and the Colours of Life staged in
the permanent display of the Paestum National Archaeological Museum from 12 April to 30
November 2014 has three subject areas:
About ten sculptured pieces in terracotta, created between the 6th and 3rd centuries BC, were
faithfully reconstructed in the scale 1:1 through 3D printer technology. They were then carefully
painted to restore many of their original colours which were hardly visible. They are displayed
in the first part of the area of the Archaeological Museum built on the model of a chamber in a
Greek temple, and communicate with the giant posters on the walls depicting reconstructions
and colour re-examinations of classical antiquity.
The nucleus on the material culture of ancient colours has been staged in the central area of
the chamber. About 100 colours of mineral, animal and vegetable origin in terracotta bowls
show a significant sample of the variety of old pigments to modern eyes used to colours that are
always bright, saturated and ready to use. Theoretical demonstrative tables created ad hoc correspond to chromatic and stone materials to show different types of plaster and mortar in colour
ranges and give examples of some techniques of pictorial representation of the painted slabs of
the Tomb of the Diver and the Lucanian slabs in the Spinazzo necropolis. The space at the end
of the chamber provides further information through the projection, on a large screen, of some
educational videos created for the Colours in History project. Museums in the classrooms - white
temples? Sima leonina, Statue of Zeus enthroned and a female bust.
Atena era la protettrice della città greca
più importante dell’Attica, Atene,
che dalla dea aveva preso il nome.
Sulle antiche monete ateniesi era raffigurata
la testa della dea protettrice
e, nel rovescio, la civetta e le foglie di olivo
a lei associate.
Tetradramma, moneta ateniese del 450 a.C.;
Ancora oggi, sulle monete da un euro coniate dalla Grecia è
stampata la riproduzione del rovescio della moneta antica.
These are painted tombs, which restore valuable sections of the streets of the Greek Poseidonia
and the Lucanian Paistos.
The Greek Tomb of the Diver, discovered in June 1968 and world famous, is narrated in a four-part multi-media film - discovery, symposium, dive, artefact (materials,
techniques and colours). Two large screens, in the room where the original slabs are exhibited,
show the film in English and Italian.
Seven painted slabs, from two Lucanian tombs discovered in the most recent archaeological
digs in the Paestum area, are displayed to the public for the first time after careful restoration.
A film tells the evolution of the figurative representation in which the Lucanian aristocracy of Paistos displayed itself during the 4th and the early decades of the 3rd centuries BC. This figured
representation is even more important as no written evidence of this community has survived.
Daily 8.45 am-7.30 pm
[the Ticket Office closes at 6.45 pm]
Closed on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month
Integrated ticket for the museum and archaeological park:
€ 10,00 full price
€ 5,00 reduced
Ordinary museum ticket:
Can be purchased only on the days or at the times the park is closed
€ 7,00 full price
€ 3,50 reduced
[email protected]
General co-ordination: Adele Campanelli
Arranged by Marina Cipriani e Paola Pacetti
Films Tomba del Tuffatore and Lastre dipinte lucane
Giovanni De Stefano, 3dSign, Paola Pacetti
Colour restoration:Enzo Michele Sottile, Poliarte, Castelbuono (Palermo) Angela Sottile, Poliarte,
Castelbuono (Palermo)Lorenzo SannaCEM srl, Macerata
Before pencils Enzo Michele Sottile, Poliarte
Angela Sottile, Poliarte, Castelbuono (Palermo) Paola Pacetti
Film Colori nella storia Massimo Marcolin, Paola Pacetti, Emilio vitola
Graphics: Pietro Bona, Ki Comunicazione, Milano
Co-operation in the selection of the graphic and photographic material:
Giovanni Avagliano
Giovanni Grippo, Francesco Valletta, Leonardo Vitola,
Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici di Salerno, Avellino, Benevento e Caserta
Staging: Consorzio arte’m net, Christian Bocciuolo
Restoration and Co-operation in the staging:
Pietro Stasi, Maria Palia Voza, Franco Calceglia, Raffaele Cantiello,
Francesco Marino, Cinzia Marino, Enzo Passarella, Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici di Salerno, Avellino, Benevento e Caserta
Education for the public:
Gelsomina Agangi, Gaetano Cantalupo, Rossella Tedesco, Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici di
Salerno, Avellino, Benevento e Caserta Consorzio arte’m net, Le Nuvole
Promotions Office of the Archaeological Heritage
Office of Salerno, Avellino, Benevento and Caserta
Simona Di Gregorio, Renata Di Lascio