Chemical Composition and Microstructure Analysis of Plaster and Pigments Retrieved from a Decorated House Wall at Seleucid Tell Iẓṭabba (Nysa-Scythopolis, Beth She’an, Israel)

Dana Ashkenazi, Romi Shnabel, Achim Lichtenberger, Oren Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Fragments of wall paintings retrieved from Hellenistic Tell Iztabba (Nysa-Scythopolis), an archaeological site located in the area of the Beth She'an Valley (Israel), are the subject of this study. This research aims to characterize the plaster and color pigments of wall paintings retrieved from the site in order to gain new information concerning their nature, their origin and the technologies that were used to paint the walls of a Hellenistic settlement in the Near East. For that purpose, visual testing inspection, XRF, SEM-EDS, and XRD analyses were applied combined with archaeological and geographical data. As the site was founded in the 160s BCE and destructed in 108/07 BCE, the material analyzed is not only stratigraphically well-secured but also well-dated to the mid-second century BCE. The walls of the dwellings under discussion were painted by the fresco method and the white-hued plaster was made of calcium carbonate matrix with embedded aggregates. The red and yellow paints were identified as red and yellow ochre pigments, respectively. The brown paint was a mixture of red ochre, yellow ochre, magnetite mineral and carbon black-based pigments. The black paint was identified as carbon black-based pigment. The pigments were mixed with fine plaster powder. The plaster and pigments were most likely regionally (if not locally) produced and supplied and provide us with information about the technical knowledge of the inhabitants of the Seleucid settlement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-122
Number of pages34
JournalMediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • MIDDLE East
  • ISRAEL
  • MURAL art
  • FRESCO painting
  • PIGMENT analysis
  • PAINTING techniques
  • INSPECTION & review
  • TECHNICAL information
  • CALCIUM carbonate
  • Fresco
  • Hellenistic
  • Nysa (Scythopolis)
  • Pigments
  • Plaster
  • Secco

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