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Book: The Power of Technology in the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean

Chapter: Analyzed to Bits: Technological and Iconographic Transfer

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.22607


In combining data from scientific analysis and experimental replication, this chapter presents and discusses the material culture remains of painted plaster at three levels: production, distribution and consumption. Moreover, it indicates the degree of interrelation of these painted plaster remains both technologically and, to a lesser extent, iconographically, and how other material remains and technologies may influence the former. Consequently, patterns of material transfer, mobility and cross-craft interaction are demonstrated. It further shows that the triptych of technology, iconography and style is clearly interwoven, forming an Aegean painting craft as a ‘technological style’ in its own right. This chapter is subdivided into six sections which resemble an onion structure where each section forms a layer moving deeper into the matter. First, all macroscopic observations are presented according to a method outlined previously (Brysbaert 2002b). This is followed by a discussion of the features observed microscopically by means of a range of different microscopes. The mineralogical identification of plaster and pigments by means of XRD analysis is the next layer revealing the multiple scope of this material, and this is followed by the dissection of the blue pigments. After a discussion of chronological issues relating to blue pigments, the theoretical and hypothetical discussions of technological transfer are illustrated with supportive material evidence. Finally, two non-destructive approaches are discussed: the testing of non-destructive instrumental analyses and the usage of experimental replication studies as a nondestructive technique in the study of painted plaster.

Chapter Contributors

  • Ann Brysbaert ( - book-auth-436) 'University of Leicester'