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WATCH: A digital reconstruction of the 2,000-year-old Menorah Panel

Anne-Victoire Morard

The famous panel in the Arch of Titus, which tells the story of the siege and spoil of Jerusalem, has been re-created.

When one thinks about classic Greek and Roman architecture and sculpture, white marble comes immediately to mind. But, in fact, classical antiquity was far more colorful than we think: even the façade of the Parthenon was, in its day, brightly painted.

The famous Arch of Titus was no exception. Built by the Roman Emperor Domitian after the death of his brother and predecessor, Titus, the Arch commemorates the victories of Titus during the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73), including the Roman siege of Jerusalem and the infamous destruction of the Second Jewish Temple in the year 70. That is to say, that the Arch of Titus is one of the very few artworks in history in which one can indeed see the liturgical objects of the Second Temple, including the Temple Menorah.

In 2012, researchers from Yeshiva University, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Institute for the Visualization of History gathered to reconstruct the famed Arch of Titus’ Menorah Panel in discernible colors, which might have been those in which it was originally painted. As explained in Realm of History,

The process entailed a detailed 3D scanning of the Menorah Panel, which allowed them to virtually recreate segments of the relief. The team then proceeded on to scan the panel for remnants of color. Interestingly enough, the researchers did find traces of yellowish tint on the menorah itself, which rather matched with ancient Jewish historian Josephus’ description of how the object appeared golden during the Roman victory parade.

You can see the video explaining the process here:


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