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2011-09-29 Art History
Continuity vs. Discontinuity
The Frescoes of Dura Europos and The Arch of Constantine
Europos: Hellenic foundation of 300BCE known as Dura (Discovered in 1920, near Syria)
- Dura was seized by Persians and was forgotten until domestic buildings, domus ecclesiae
(house used for Christian cult worship) and Jewish centre were uncovered
Dura Europos- The Site.
- Palmyra Gate ( The Front Gate)
- Jewish community centre, Christian domus ecclesiae (indistinguishable from any other
house in the neighborhood. However, they were not secret meeting places.. 박해안받았음)
- Synagogue (Dura Europos frescoes) all 4 walls were entirely decorated with frescoes. –
“Program” decoration scheme
- The eastern wall: most of the frescoes are destroyed.
Style of Dura Europo Frescoes
- When there is no pre-knowledge about the objective of the paintings (such as this one),
Art historians focus first on Style.
- Linearism, frontality, flatness, rigidity and provincialism (mediocre level of execution)
- No means of comparison with another artifact of the same timeline makes it hard to
judge the sophistication the frescoes.
Criteria for judgment
- Pictorial Languages: Every image necessarily serves a set of social functions.
- “What actually happened in the room where those paintings are found?”
- Paintings with oral tradition (usage of frescoes by Rabbi while preaching?)
- Finding of Dura Europo shook the foundation of theories that were already established
- Esther and Mordecai with the Jewish holiday Purim… There is no exact text
correspondence in the Bible for the paintings.. Maybe it was oral tradition and discussion
- Many frescoes do not follow the canonical text basis and are visually responding to the
local traditions that existed
- Instead of seeing the frescoes as illustrations of scriptures, there is a possibility that it was
drawn before written text came into existence
- Graffito in Parthian that reads: “This is Aparsam, the Scribe.” – Enigma since we don’t
know if the author was just saying something like “Kilroy was here” or the author’s
identification of himself with the powerful man on the horse
The Arch of Constantine