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Chersonesan Studies 1

Chersonesan Studies 1

Richard Posamentir
Edited by Joseph Coleman Carter
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  • Book Info
    Chersonesan Studies 1
    Book Description:

    Chersonesan Studies 1presents the painted grave stelai of the Early Hellenistic necropolis of Chersonesos Taurike, a Greek city on the northern shore of the Black Sea. This unique collection of over one hundred objects is of major interest to students of ancient art and Greek culture. Their polychrome decoration has been extraordinarily well preserved, a rarity in the ancient world. They compose a remarkable, even unique, body of evidence of Greek funerary memorial sculpture: their shapes are gender-specific, their depicted objects are gender- and age-specific, and they can be ascribed to a handful of specific workshops. Their surprising uniformity requires an explanation, since comparable assemblages from other parts of the Greek world show substantial diversity in all these aspects.

    This book provides the first complete catalog and description of the stelai, together with full-color illustrations of all the significant stelai and many details. Through his painstaking recovery and reassembling of fragments, as well as the use of advanced photographic techniques, Richard Posamentir has been able to add a whole new dimension to the study of these artifacts. The volume covers the history of the stelai, analysis of the workshops, and reconstruction of the necropolis that the stelai originally graced. A comparison chapter discusses how the stelai fit into the context of Greek funerary art and provides insights into the culture and society of a city on the Black Sea.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-78495-6
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. [Map]
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Series Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Joseph Coleman Carter

    This book is a first in several important ways. It is the first volume in a new series of publications, Chersonesan Studies, undertaken by the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas, with support from the Packard Humanities Institute. It is the first fruit of a pioneer collaboration between a foreign classical archaeological mission and a major cultural institution of the former Soviet Union, the National Preserve of Tauric Chersonesos. And it is the first full publication of a collection of funerary stelai, monuments that rank among the most extensive and varied examples of color use in ancient...

  5. Author’s Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    Richard Posamentir
  6. I. The Polychrome Grave Stelai from the Early Hellenistic Necropolis

    • 1 Introduction
      (pp. 1-12)

      From the start, a necessary objective of this work has been to provide a comprehensive description of the grave monuments of the Early Hellenistic necropolis of Chersonesos Taurike. Because the polychrome coloring is extraordinarily well preserved, this project inevitably entailed the exhaustive documentation of technical details, analysis of the monuments’ distinctive characteristics, and research into scientific techniques for investigation of painting. The aim of this study is to describe and interpret the stelai and their associated elements, with particular consideration given to what the monuments can reveal about the city’s development and structure.

      It is extremely rare to encounter grave...

    • 2 Catalog of Grave Stelai
      (pp. 13-128)
    • 3 Shape and Object Analysis
      (pp. 129-154)

      Some of the necropolis elements found built into the inner face of the Tower of Zeno—the stelai, their bases and anthemia, small naiskoi, and a large number of anthropomorphic objects with their associated bases (see Chapter 8)—can be related directly to one another (see Chapter 9). However, the relationship between the grave stelai and the so-called sarcophagi, the painted panels, and a large number of architectural elements found in the Tower¹ remains unclear, both in their spatial arrangement and in their meaning. Although there is little doubt that at least the majority of these architectural elements must have...

    • 4 Painting
      (pp. 155-168)

      Preservation of paint on antique monuments depends on various factors: the pigments, the binder, and to a great extent, the substrate material. Paint pigments behave differently on a marble surface than they do on a softer stone,¹ and so the investigative techniques employed must be selected accordingly. The Chersonesos grave stelai were made mostly from the soft local limestone. There are a few exceptions, such as one marble stele of a later date(Fig. 4.1), and a few separately produced marble anthemia (Nos. CR1–3), all without any traces of color. Limestone, although relatively easy to carve, can never be...

    • 5 Stelai from Inside the Tower of Zeno
      (pp. 169-202)

      Among the gravestones recovered from the Tower of Zeno, several were so similar in form, iconography and overall appearance—although their state of preservation sometimes disguises these similarities—that they could be identified as a group almost at a glance. It was thus possible to begin dividing the entire collection into groups, with the assumption that these were associated with separate workshops (Fig. 5.1). This impression was confirmed by the in-depth use of the photographic analysis described in the previous chapters, which allowed the detection and assessment of all kinds of information about the material, toolmarks, coloring, and technical characteristics....

    • 6 Stelai from Outside the Tower of Zeno
      (pp. 203-214)

      To put into greater perspective both the workshop attributions and groups identified among the Tower of Zeno finds, it may be useful to examine the gravestones that were not found in the tower. These stelai need not necessarily belong to a later period, and they could as well come from a coeval necropolis, or possibly an even earlier one. They might even have come from the same cemetery, having somehow escaped reuse as building material. A later date seems more probable in most cases, and the majority of the group attributed to the “tradition of the Sannion workshop,” which is...

    • 7 Dating of the Grave Stelai
      (pp. 215-226)

      Assigning dates to the grave stelai of Chersonesos is not a simple task. The following discussion focuses almost entirely on the gravestones found in the fill of the Tower of Zeno, with only occasional mention of those found outside or in other environments. This is because only with the tower group can we be sure that we are dealing with a sealed deposit of material in which the stelai share the sameterminus ante quem, the date of the tower’s construction.

      As will become clear in Chapter 10 on comparisons from other areas, the grave stelai from the Tower of...

    • 8 Associated Elements: Crownings, Bases, Naiskoi, and Anthropomorphic Stones
      (pp. 227-248)

      The stelai, which have been the focus of the discussion up until now, were the most visible part of complex funerary monuments consisting of several elements. Five groups of other finds are directly associated with the grave stelai and are presented in the catalog at the end of this chapter. Some of these objects were found in the fill of the Tower of Zeno, but most were found outside the tower or in different contexts. In many cases, the lack of documentation, which is less thorough than in the case of the stelai, makes it impossible to determine their original...

    • 8a Catalog of Associated Elements
      (pp. 249-343)
    • 9 The Location and Appearance of the Necropolis in the Hellenistic Period
      (pp. 345-355)

      The inhabitants of Chersonesos, like those of most Greek poleis, were accustomed to burying their dead outside the city’s walls.¹ The necropoleis of the earliest settlements² in the north near the coastline,³ along with those in the south in the area of the later theater,⁴ imply that the city of the late 5th and early 4th centuries bc was essentially confined to the northern part of the peninsula, with the acropolis located on the hill upon which the cathedral of St. Volodymyr has stood since 1892 (Fig. 9.1). Another necropolis with numerous graves, of which thirty-one can be dated to...

    • 10 Stelai Comparisons
      (pp. 357-372)

      There are close similarities between the gravestones of Chersonesos and their predecessors in Classical Athens, in respect to both their form and the objects depicted on them (seeFig. 3.16). These are so apparent that more subtle influences from other areas have probably been overlooked. This chapter presents parallels from other parts of the Greek world with a special emphasis on the Black Sea region (Fig. 10.1). The following questions will be raised:

      1. Can the custom of depicting a limited variety of certain objects (staffs, swords, athletic equipment, taenia, alabastra) be explained by traditions found in other regions of the...

    • 11 Conclusion: The Necropolis, Its Destruction, and the Tower of Zeno
      (pp. 373-380)

      The painted grave stelai and their accompanying bases, anthemia, anthropomorphic objects, and small naiskoi were the focal point of this investigation. These objects were created and erected in one of the necropoleis of Chersonesos Taurike in the Late Classical/Early Hellenistic era, but served as building material for the Tower of Zeno (city wall tower XVII) around the mid-3rd century bc. This structure formed a corner of the Citadel, an enlargement of the previous fortification system. The stelai were discovered and published in the 1960s; in 2000—2004 many fragments were collected, some rejoined, and all documented, in order to conduct...

  7. II. Specialist Studies

    • 12 The People of the Citadel Necropolis
      (pp. 383-428)
      Paula Perlman

      The present chapter explores what the funerary monuments from the Tower of Zeno reveal about the people who commissioned them and who buried their dead in the Early Hellenistic necropolis (hereafter referred to as the “Citadel Necropolis”). The focus here is on the painted and inscribed epitaphs and the other markers, notably the “age-symbols,” from which it is possible to sketch a portrait of this community. The discussion begins with a brief review of the demographic data (gender and age) that the monuments provide¹ and then moves on to consider naming patterns and epigraphic habits (e.g. the omission of the...

    • 12a Catalog of Inscriptions
      (pp. 429-454)
    • 13 Pigment Analyses for the Grave Stelai and Architectural Fragments from Chersonesos
      (pp. 455-462)
      John Twilley

      Production of archaeologically and historically useful results from scientific analysis of ancient painting remnants requires more than a basic identification of what these remains consist of today. Scholarly inquiry into subjects as diverse as the uses and symbolisms of color in antiquity, ancient aesthetic sensibilities, the perception of the ancient world through the eyes of its inhabitants, the economics of producing art and the trade relations in rare painting materials are all better served by a scientific approach which considers the effects of time and the environment on the materials of the ancient artisan.

      Our understanding of these issues is...

  8. References
    (pp. 463-476)
  9. Index
    (pp. 477-483)
  10. Index of Catalog Numbers
    (pp. 484-486)
  11. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 487-489)