Maze Pattern Floor - The Wall Paintings of Tell el-Dab'a

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Maze Pattern Floor

Andreas Hanöffner and Lucie Siftar

In front of the entrance ramp of ‘Palace F’ several fragments of painted plaster with various motifs were recovered. Most prominent among them was a coherent group of associated fragments yielding a ‘maze pattern’. Certain technical aspects of the recovered fragments suggest that they were not part of a wall decoration, but of a floor painting. In the face of this exceptional observation the finds deserve closer examination, so far they have only been partially studied and published as a preliminary reconstruction (1). A detailed examination of this material promises a number of new insights, both iconographical, due to the outstanding visual complexity of the motif, and technical, due to its unique workmanship. Both lines of inquiry raise several questions in terms of the applied chaîne opératoire, some aspects of which have been summarily discussed in a recent M.A. thesis by Irina Huller (2).
Nonetheless, a detailed study of this process, which focuses on the arrangement of the fragments as a spacious floor-area and on the resulting challenges for the technical skills of fresco-painting involved, has yet to be undertaken. The ‘maze pattern’ itself is of high iconographic importance and can be linked to similar floor patterns known from Crete (3). On the basis of such parallels it is possible not only to comparatively assess the methods of construction but also to discuss semiological connotations of the ‘maze pattern’ in different geographical and cultural contexts. Finally, of particular interest for the project are interactive processes between iconographic elements and their spectators within the given spatial context as well as their intended impact on the conceptualization of space itself.


(1) Cf. Bietak, Marinatos & Palyvou 2007, 42f.
Cf. I. Huller, Fresken in Tell el-Dab’a. Arbeitstechnische Untersuchungen (unpublished M.A. thesis; University of Vienna 2013) 61-66.
(3) Cf. Shaw 2012.

Fragment of the Maze Pattern Floor
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