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The Met in New York Shows Egypt's Temple of Dendur In Its Original Colors

A mixture of research and projection-mapping technology, the Met's 'Color the Temple' exhibition gives viewers a taste of what the Egyptian Temple of Dendur may have really looked like.

Once located on the banks of the Nile, the Egyptian Temple of Dendur, exhibited at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, is now part of a digital projection project that that may reflect its original form more than 2,000 years after its construction.

The Met’s MediaLab has installed a projector that fills in the temple’s carvings with vivid colours and patterns, resulting in a radically different representation than the sand shades that traditionally depict the ancient pharaonic monuments. Entitled “Color the Temple,” the exhibit is the result of a combination of research and projection-mapping technology, allowing visitors to view what the Temple of Dendur may have looked like in its original form.

“Egyptian temples were not simply houses for a cult image but also represented, in their design and decoration, a variety of religious and mythological concepts. One important symbolic aspect was based on the understanding of the temple as an image of the natural world as the Egyptians knew it,” MET explains on their official site.

The exhibition is on display until March 19, but as one section of the structure’s south side partially lit by sunshine, washing out the projector’s light, the scene is illuminated on Friday and Saturday evenings when the Met offers extended hours, according to the New York Times.

The temple was relocated in the USA in the 1960s, as UNESCO led a salvage campaign to protect the building from the erosion caused by frequent floodings – which by the 1920s, occurred nine months of the year. In 1967, US President Lyndon B. Johnson gave it to the Met, which has so far been unable to detect any remnants of color.

With the advent of the MediaLab and the arrival of ancient polychromy researcher Erin Peters in 2013, a path to discover the temple´s lost colors opened up. The expert was guided by Napoleon-era publications which depicted brilliant paint inside the Temple of Hathor, built in the same period as the Temple of Dendur. The MediaLab created different projections according to several iconic possibilities, all of which will be on view.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.