"If the ancient Greeks sold kitschy postcards to tourists 2,000 years ago, they would have depicted much different views of the popular sites that visitors flock to today.
Archaeologists say many of the stony ruins looked much different in their prime. Many were brightly painted in hues that have faded with time and, in some cases, with forced removal.
The Parthenon in Athens was once covered in colorful splashes of paint, for example.
It has long been known that the formidable marble temple, which sits atop the capital city’s Acropolis citadel, had been painted. New tests, performed by Greek archaeologist and chemical engineer Evi Papakonstantinou-Zioti, confirm the use of brilliant shades of red, blue and green.
Traces of the colors were found during a laser cleaning done as part of ongoing restorations to the temple, built in 432 B.C.
Simple weathering caused the colors to fade over time, said Sara Orel, associate professor of art history at Missouri’s Truman University.
“Weathering through the bleaching of the sun, blowing of the sand, etc., and more modern pollution-caused damage” are the major culprits, Orel told LiveScience. She sees this through much of Egypt, where the carved designs on most ancient buildings were painted to make them stand out more prominently against lighter stone. Today those colors are barely visible."