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Techniques and materials used in wall paintings, from the Classical to the Roman period, in the Eastern Mediterranean.The decoration of the Macedonian Funerary Monuments

Principal Researcher: Lydia Avlonitou (Université Paris-Ouest, France)

This study focuses especially on the vegetal and geometric motifs found in funerary monuments located in the area of ancient Macedonia (Norhern Greece). The famous Macedonian tombs, but also the decorated cist tombs, form a remarkable source of evidence on late Classical and Hellenistic painting, since they preserve compositions executed in the techniques formulated at the end of the 5th and in the 4th cent. B.C., “the Golden Era of Painting”.

The aim is to gather and compare these motifs, determine the techniques and materials used and trace the different artistic trends as much as the reciprocal influences in the ancient world. The ultimate goal is a useful contribution in the archaeological and archaeometrical research in Macedonia.

The archaeological part of the project will include a thorough catalogue of the painted funerary monuments located in this region, gathering all the important information (excavation data, dating, published references, description of the painted decoration), and followed by explanatory pictures. In the cases where the decoration has been subjected to archaeometrical study, its results will also be comprised in the catalogue.

In the archaeometrical part of the thesis physicochemical analytical techniques will be applied, varying from non-destructive, such as μ-XRF, to more demanding methods like SEM-EDS or the 3Dμ–XRF. The identification of inorganic and organic materials reveals the pigments and the binding media, suggesting the technique used for the realisation of the painting. A database of bibliographical references concerning the application of physico-chemical analytic techniques for the study of the materials of wall –paintings has also begun, in collaboration with KERA (Institute of Historical Research, Department of Greek and Roman Antiquity).

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