The book publishes the fragments of wall paintings from Phaistos. Crete. In chapter 1 (I palazzi e le abitazioni minoiche di Festòs) a brief survey of the excavations is given, in order to help the reader finding himself in the provenience indications and in the complex system of denomination of Phaistòs excavations. Then a discussion of chronological problem is offered. Against the background of this chronological frame are to be interpreted the archaeological contexts of the fresco fragments. The introduction to the catalogue, and the catalogue of the fragments, constitute the second and third chapters. Each fragment, or homogeneous group of fragments, is indicated by the letter F followed by the indication of the area, and then by a progressive number. Roman numbers, for typographical reason, are substituted by ordinal ones (e.g. 87° for LXXXVII). Numbers in brackets indicate that a piece comes from that area, but belongs to preceding strata (e.g. F (40) is the sigle of fragments found in excavations under Court 40). Abbreviations for unnumbered areas include: BII (Bastione II), BW (Bastione Ovest), CM (China meridionale), GF (Grande Frana), KIII (Kouloura III), N30° (North of XXX), SK (Area South of kouloure I-III), SW1° (South-West of Court 1). Abbreviations for fragments without provenance indications include: MD (fragments with decorative motifs), MF (fragments of strips and borders), MM (monochrome fragments), MP (floor plaster fragments), MR (relief fragments), MV (fragments with vegetal motifs). A small letter at the end is ajoined to indicate when the fragments belong to pigmental material (c), floor decoration (p), offering tables (t), crude brick (m), or are a relief plaster (r). Stone tools with evidence of having been used as polishing tools are also included. The catalogue is organized chronologically and topographically. Following the broad subdivisions in Prepalatial, Protopalatial and Neopalatial periods, the fragments from the Palace are distinguished by those from private houses and from fills or dumps. In the Palace, pieces from old and new excavations are kept separated. In order to help the reader finding himself in Levi monumental Festòs e la Civiltà minoica, the material from Levi's soundings is organized according his subdivision in three phases, even if this subdivision is no more valid, and the so called III fase is now considered neopalatial. Where possible, for architectonic structure the description of the decoration still in the wall is given, according to excavators' description and to our autopsy. As a total, about 430 items are catalogued. Only one is neolithic (F (29).1), while no fragment survive belonging to the prepalatial periods, even if red floors belonging to this period were perhaps discovered by Pernier, and by Levi (under Court LXX). The great majority of the pieces comes from protopalatial levels, but only some of the fragments from I and II fase Levi are painted: the painted floor F 54°.1p, the fragments F 53°.1-2, F 62°.1. Painted floors in red, white, and in one case black, were detected in soundings under Court 40, and in the residential quarter to the West of the Piazzale Mediano. The majority of the fragments from houses, however, come from the rooms in the China Meridionale (F CM), and from the Casa a sud della Rampa (Room LXXXVI-XCIII, XCVI); they can be dated to the III fase Levi. The same chronology must be assigned to another well-known piece, the meander floor from Chalara (F CHTh.1p). As far as the fragments from fillings is concerned, we assign to MM II the material from over Cortile LXX and from Kouloura III. The plaster found in the debris scattered all over Cortile I (Area a sud del Piazzale I (SW1°); a Nord della Vasca XXX (N30°); Bastione Occidentale (BW)) and those from the Grande Frana, west of it (GF) are more difficult to date. According to the associated material, they can be both MM II and MM III, and only by stylistic analysis we propose to assign to MM II F N30°.1, very similar to F 62°.1, and to MM III all the offering tables, together with F BW.1, with reed motifs, and SW1°.2 perhaps also with the same pattern. In neopalatial strata under the Second Palace some beautiful pieces with vegetable motifs were found (F (86).1; F (85).1). The painted wall decoration from the Second Palace is well known and was described by Pernier. The surviving pieces, stored in the Herakleion Museum , are attributed to their original location, whenever possible, thanks to Pernier's publication. The most important finds are those from the niche of the Central Court and of Corridor 41 (F 40.1-2; F 41.1), the moulded decoration from Vano 49, and the numerous fragments pertaining to different scenes from Room 79 (see our reconstruction in fig. xx). The nature scene from Room 81 is known only by the description of the excavators. From neopalatial houses, the most important find is the foot of offering table from Chalara quarter F CHZ'.1t. From the area around the Palace, the beautiful fragment F SK.2 must be added. Moreover, a great bulk of material was excavated under the later geometric houses. From under Room Z the foot of an offering table with papyrus motif was discovered (F Z.1t), from under Rooms AA and CC, a long frieze with reeds (F AACC.1), and numerous lumps of plaster with the impression of beam-end structures (F AACC.12). The last section of the catalogue include the fragments without provenence indication. They are ordered according to the subject dipicted: floral (F MV), geometric pattern (F MD), strips (F MF), relief (F MR) and monochrome. Chapter 4 (Il repertorio decorativo) deals with the iconographic analysis of the best preserved subject. Due to the fragmentary state of the material, a real iconological analysis is possible only in some cases. Among representational scenes, two groups of fragments are interesting, insofar they can attest the existence of scenes representing human activities. F 49.1 is the moulded version of a beam end frieze, very similar to the cornice of the Piccola Processione from Ayia Triada; it could have belonged to a scene 34 cm high. F 73°.1 includes few relief pieces which bear some resemblance with the High Reliefs scenes from Knossos. Unfortunately, not enough is preserved to confirm these suppositions. Other figural paintings includes papyri (F CHZ.1t; F Z.1t), nature scenes with reeds (F 79.1-2; F SK.2; F BW.1-2; F AACC.1), or other not well identifiable plants (F 79.3, perhaps Oleander; F (85).1, a stylized leaf). Different ways of execution can be identified, from standardized (F 79.3, F (85).1, F MV 1-3), to more naturalistic ones (F AACC.1), with the best preserved examples being F 79.1-2, SK 2. An outstanting exemple are the foots of offering tables F CHZ'.1t, and F Z.1t, without parallels in Phaistòs, perhaps imports from Knossos. The nature scene with relief dado from Room 81, known only from the description by Banti, seems to be so similar to Ayia Triada composition B, to be attributed to the same school of painters. Only a few compositions preserve a complex decoration which allows an iconographical and stylistic analysis. Two of these are MM II: the floor decoration from Room LIV (F 54°.1p), and the flamed motif (a stylized palm?) F KIII.1-3. To MM IIIA can be assigned the floor decoration with a meander F CHTh.1p; the fragments with spiral and zig-zag pattern F CM.1; the rosettes or margarites F CM 5-6. To LM I can be finally dated the stylized rosettes F 79.6-8, and the lattice patterns represented in F 40.1-2; F 41.1; F MD.2-5. In all the other painted fragments only a single motif is preserved, and the last part of chapter 4 is devoted to thematic related paintings: phytomorphic representations (F CM 1; F 86°.1; F GF.3t; F 51°.7); motifs imitating stone patterns (F 47°.1; F 46.2; F 79.10; F GF.1t. Perhaps also F 62°.1, FN30°.1; F 70°.3), sponge patterns (F 79.2); borders and strips. Chapter 5 (L'organizzazione dello spazio pittorico) develops the problems connected with a higher level of analysis than the iconographical one. The way of locating pictorial elements within a single units of decoration (wall, floor, niche, lintel) can follow different systems: in the first, the elements radiate from a central point (F 40.1-2, F 41.1, perhaps also F KIII.1), in the second, they are distributed paratactically along a horizontal axis, and can be connected each other in some ways (F CHTh'.1p, F 47°.1-2, F 86.1, etc.). A third system is completely astructural, and it is perhaps rooted in an older tradition (F 62°.1, F 30°.1, F 41.1, etc.). In the distribution of paintings within the rooms, a difference can be detected between the First and the Second Palace periods in Festòs. During MM I-II, painted decoration extends itself in the whole room, irrespectively of the natural divisions (floor, walls, ceiling); on the other hand, red and blue pigments are used as focusing devices for niches and benches. Since MM IIIA, on the contrary, decorated strips are introduced to distinguish structural partition of the architectonic space, and scenes tend to organise themselves in panels. In the distribution of painting within the palace, during MM I-II, an overall use of plaster decoration together with a functional use of colours may be seen. Different pigments stress the different importance of spaces: white or yellow colours are devoted to the more common rooms, polished white, in association with red and blue pigments, to the most important ones; red plaster also to storerooms. The same hierarchical use of material can be detected in the chose between all-plaster floors, irregular stone slabs paving and regular slabs paving. A good example of this use of pigments and materials is their distribution in the South-West Quarter of the First Palace. In the Second Palace periods, on the contrary, stone facing of walls and floors becomes the rule. The use of plaster facing is restricted to a few secondary rooms and corridors, or to the figural decoration of some (but not all) public/religious spaces. Some kind of significative distribution of decoration is suggested in the route from Court 40 to the North-East Quarter, where the only vegetal representations of the Second Palace were discovered. Unfortunately, the deeper significance of the paintings escapes us. A religious function seems probable, but also a mundane one can not be excluded, and we suggest that in the Palace of Festòs the role of painted decoration as a prestige artifact is overwhelming, while a real structurated discourse in its general distribution seems to be lacking. Technical aspects are discussed in chapter 6 (La tecnica). The different elements of a mural painting are analysed: the wall, the roughing-in, the rendering, the pigments. Chemical analyses (see Appendix 1) demonstrate that plaster is made by calcium carbonate as a major component (90%), but also by sand, terracotta fragments, hairs. Colours are generally natural pigments obtained by ocher (red, yellow), burnt wood (black), calcium carbonate (white, in some cases added as an independent pigment to the already white surface of the plaster). Only blue is an artificial pigment (Egyptian blue). Colours were applied when the plaster was still wet with a brush; a few floor pieces (F 54°.1p; F CHTh.1p) have been decorated in the incavo technique. Floor facing included a kind of concrete (so called Taratsa); red grout and slabs; red plaster and irregular slabs; overall red plaster; plaster imitating a slab covering; real painting. A peculiar group of plaster fragments includes some pieces used as a filling material in architecture. These fragments obviously preserve the negative imprint of the architectonic pieces they were covering: perhaps fluted columns in F MR.1; beam-ends in F AACC.12. As far as the painting technique is concerned, the elements at our disposal, and the results of chemical analyses, seem to confirm that a true fresco technique was widespread, with the additional use of "mezzo fresco" for additional details. Obviously, this does not mean that Minoans might not have known the tempera technique so common in the contemporary Egyptian world. Plaster offering tables, are discussed in chapter 7 (Le tavole da offerta). Not a single whole table is survived, and from the existing fragments three main types can tentatevely be distinghished: a circular, low one; a rectangular, higher one; a rectangular type with double basin. The main problem is the way plaster was added to a central nucleus of other material. A tentative simulation of manifacturing an offering tables has been made in Appendix 2. The results suggest that the nucleus was made by unbaken clay, strengthened with a framework of wooden beams; the plaster was then applied in successive coats with a brush, waiting for each coat to dry. The history of plaster painting in Festòs is sketched in chapter 8 (La pittura parietale a Festòs). Wall decoration appears in Festòs since the Final Neolithic period. The fragment F (29).1 belongs to a tradition that seems likely to be rooted more in the Levant than in Central Europe, even if the chronology of Near Eastern comparanda is higher. The relationship with the later Minoan plastering technique is however not clear. The Minoan tradition of painted wall plastering begins in EM I and continues without interruption until LM IIIB. In Festòs, the first examples are monochrome white and red wall and floor fragments found in soundings under room XLV and XXI, Court 40, Bastione II. But a real production of wall decoration begins only with the birth of the first Palace. The two characteristics of this period are the functional and hierarchical use of colours (see above), and the difference among the predominant hue in the so called three Fasi Levi. In fact, a more varied use of pigments distinguishes the first floor of the South-West Quarter (white, polished white, yellow, red, blue, decorated fragments) from the second floor, where yellow is predominant. The so called III fase Levi in this area is very scarcely attested, but rooms found by Pernier and assigned by Levi to this phase are gray painted. This can point toward the existence of three different First Palaces, as Levi suggested, but can find also another explanation, more suitable to the new data. In a single Palace, public spaces, opend to Court LXX (those of the first floor) were more rich painted than private apartments (those of the second floor). Pernier's rooms are likely to belong to the very last decoration of the first palace, made after a first destruction by earthquakes (Fase dei sacelli). The few painted pieces, mostly with non iconic decoration (the only exception can be F KIII.1, perhaps a pictorialized version of a palm tree) suggest that the role of wall painting in this period was not that of conveying a narrative message. A large amount of fragments of high quality was discovered in MM IIIA houses and strata (Casa a Sud della Rampa, China meridionale, fill on the Piazzale Mediano, Grande Frana). None has a truly figural decoration, but a change in interest toward stylised vegetal motifs is apparent. This is in line with contemporary pottery production. A lot the fragments come from offering tables. This interest in wall painting in a period charachterized by attempts to rebuild the palace, with people living around its area, suggest a growing importance of this art, linked perhaps with a more specific religious significance. Unfortunately, it is not possible to date the first examples of truly vegetal decoration coming from neopalatial fillings. If they could be dated to MM III, they would confirm the innovative role played by Festian artisans in the creation of a new trends in wall paintings, pointing towards figural representation. After this vital period, the craft of plaster decoration seem to decline. The wall paintings of the Second Palace are a common production which can not compete with the contemporary paintings in Knossos and the so called Villas. This situation can be explained as a reflex of the general, political, organisation of Crete in LM IB, when the Palace of Phaistòs was only, as Driessen and Macdonald said, a Ghost Building.
|Titolo:||Gli affreschi minoici di Festòs|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2001|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||3.1 Monografia o trattato scientifico|