Anne P. Chapin

in The Oxford Handbook of the Bronze Age Aegean

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199873609
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology


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  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Art and Architecture
  • Greek and Roman Archaeology


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Pictorial painting in fresco is a defining characteristic of Aegean culture, yet the art form presents numerous challenges to modern study. Prehistoric frescoes are durable but fragile, and as little as five to ten percent of any given composition may survive to the present day. Attempts to restore the original appearance of such fragmentary paintings often result in errors or overly imaginative reconstructions. Dating frescoes to specific phases of prehistory is also difficult. Fresco fragments are often found in secondary contexts, and mixed stratigraphy and/or scant documentation of excavations often obscure the dating of surviving frescoes. In the absence of written history, however, the pictorial imagery preserved on frescoes provides crucial information about the social practices and beliefs of the prehistoric Minoan, Cycladic, and Mycenaean civilizations of the Aegean. This article on Aegean wall painting focuses on recent scholarship.

Keywords: frescoes; Aegean culture; stratigraphy; Minoan; Cycladic; Mycenaean civilizations; wall painting

Article.  5317 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Greek and Roman Archaeology

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