Further Relevant Sites - The Wall Paintings of Tell el-Dab'a

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Further Relevant Sites

Next to the murals of the Aegean a whole series of sites with wall paintings of the second Millennium B.C. in Anatolia, Western Asia and Egypt are of relevance for an examination and comparison of the above described material of Tell el Dab’a, Hattusha and Qatna. Either they can be consulted as an iconographic or architectonic parallel or they can be used to show possible divergences. Among them are well known and highly important sites as for example Mari at the Euphrates, Tell el-Burak, Ebla and Lachish at the Levant or Amarna, Malkata and Beni Hassan in Egypt. Of specific importance for the present project are of course Tel Kabri and Alalakh at the Levant, both displaying very distinct iconographic and technical relations to the Aegean.

Tell Atchana/Alalakh
At Tell Atchana, ancient Alalakh, excavations during the years 1936-1939 and 1946-1949 directed by L. Woolley yielded some evidence of the use of fresco paintings within the interior design of official buildings and private houses. The earliest finds of small coloured lime plaster fragments dates back to the times of level IX. The main body of wall paintings derived from different contexts of the level VII palace (so called Palace of Yarim-Lim), but there are also some later examples of fresco paintings found in room 6 of house 39/A, level IV (1).
Their dates are highly controversial: depending on the used chronology the wall paintings from Middle Bronze Age level VII palace belonging to the second half of the 17th century B.C. respectively to the early 16th century B.C., whereas the Late Bronze Age paintings of level IV can be assigned to the 15th century B.C., roughly contemporaneous with the late Tuthmoside Period in Egypt (2).
The wall paintings of the level VII palace include painted dados simulating the appearance of basalt orthostates, a sequence of bands and a bucranion, possibly a landscape with a griffin and depictions of reeds (3). The murals of house 39/A show the representation of constructional features borrowed from the local architecture (4).

For more detailed information on the site of Tell Atchana/Alalakh, please see the following link.

Tel Kabri
In the Middle Bronze Age palace of Tel Kabri a painted lime plaster floor and an Aegean-style miniature painting have been found during the excavations conducted from 1987 to 1991. The date of the final destruction of the palace has been suggested by A. Yasur-Landau and E. Cline - codirecting the new excavations at the site since 2005 - and their team to the first half of the 16th century B.C. Therefore, the excavators argue for a date of the whole wall painting material of the site within the late 17th century B.C. (5).
The painted floor was found in Hall 611, a square room of 10 x 10 m, which served as the centre of the western wing of the palace. The layout of this painting - which formerly covered the whole floor of the room - consists of a grid pattern of red lines separating rectangles of approximately 40 x 40 cm. These squares are decorated with an irregular pattern in different colours imitating the marbling of gypsum slabs, while others show in addition floral motifs. Therefore, the painted floor has been interpreted as the imitation of an actual stone slab pavement (6).
Under threshold 698 between Room 607 and Hall 611 about 2000 very small fragments of a miniature wall painting had been found, which have subsequently been studied by Barbara and Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier. They were able to identify landscape elements, depictions of boats and architecture as well as a griffin. Further, they proposed partial reconstructions of the painting in analogy to the miniature frescos of the West House of Thera (7).
In 2008 and 2009 the excavations of the palace of Tel Kabri yielded about 100 additional fragments originating from Area D-West and D-South (8). The most prominent pieces show ‘a white subject with black linear details and outlines […] against a blue background’ (9). Among other suggestions, the excavators prefer ‘the depiction of a winged bird or animal as the most likely reconstruction’ (10).

For more detailed information on the site of Tel Kabri, please see the following link.

(1) Cf. Woolley 1955, esp. 228–234.
(2) Cf. Bietak 2007, 269–276. esp. 270f.
(3) Cf. Niemeier – Niemeier 2000, 780–789.
(4) Cf. Woolley 1955, 231f.
(5) Cf. Cline, Yasur-Landau and Goshen (2011) 56.
(6) Cf. Niemeier and Niemeier 2002, 255-259.
(7) Cf. Niemeier and Niemeier 2002, 266-270.
(8) Cf. Cline, Yasur-Landau and Goshen 2011.
(9) Cline, Yasur-Landau and Goshen 2011, 250.
(10) Cline, Yasur-Landau and Goshen 2011, 251.

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