Last week, the Comune di Roma treated the eternal city to a full-colour illumination of the front of the Ara Pacis or Altar of Peace.
As part of an actor-led tour that dramatically recounted the stories of Romulus and Aeneas in order to explain their presence on the front of the Ara Pacis, lights were used to superimpose dazzling colours onto white marble facade of the altar. The goal was to give visitors an idea of the monument’s appearance at the time of its dedication in 9 BC.
Though the altar is all-white now, scholars agree that such monuments — as well as sculptures — were once brightly coloured. Thus, vivid blues, greens, yellows, and reds characterized the illumination.
Vatican Museums Director, Antonio Paolucci, who co-organized the project, said that the projected colours were chosen based on traces of paint recovered from the monument in the 1930's, such as red ochre and gold leaf.
The Ara Pacis was built in celebration of the end of the civil wars and the advent of peace under the reign of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus.
Though the colour projections were a temporary holiday event, organizers say they hope to make the demonstration a permanent part of Ara Pacis Museum in December 2009.
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