The Colourful Look of the Maussolleion at Halikarnassos

Gürol AYTEPE - Abdulkadir BARAN

. Sayı

Received Date : 11.05.2021 | Acceptance Date : 17.06.2021

DOI : 10.32949/Arkhaia.2021.33 | Online Publication Date : 20.6.2021 14:05:56


This paper aims to investigate the painting remains and with the help of parallel examples to propose a restitution of the original colourful look of the Maussolleion at Halikarnassos which is the monumental tomb of Karian satrap Maussollos who died in 353/352 BC. It is known that the Maussolleion stood intact at Halikarnassos until an earthquake in the 12th century AD. The monumentality and artistic effect of the building influenced many architects of its time who later constructed several monumental buildings and it was listed as one of “the Seven Wonders of the World” by the ancient writers. It is well known that ancient builders coloured all the building parts including sculptures, and the Maussolleion was originally richly coloured. The colouring was not only for visual effect but it also created protection layers for the monument as we know stood intact more than fifteen centuries. Newton reported that he had observed parts of the colours were still visible on the newly excavated fragments but he also mentioned that they quickly disappeared after the exposure. A coat of varnish should have protected these colours, which were mostly organic based. The polychromy of the ancient buildings and sculptures has long been in discussion because of the remains of organic colours are scarce and not easily visible by naked eye but the advanced technics applied on the remains in recent times proved that the use of colour in antiquity was extensively common. The investigations and analyses on the existing remains of the Maussolleion also point to the colourful look. Blue, red and creamy white varnish were the dominant colours used especially on the architectural details of the monument, but yellow, brown, light blue, purple and green were also used on the mouldings and sculpture. The technique of gilding and attachments from bronze, precious stones, gold etc. were also employed for the decoration. The use of bluish limestone on the lower parts of the cella, podium, plinthoi and probably for chamber walls was also for decorative purpose and this enriched the look of the monument. All of the evidence helps us to propose the best possible reconstruction on colouring of the monument. Further investigations in the future might reveal more evidence but for now, it seems this colourful look is quite acceptable and it is more than a hypothetical reconstruction for the most parts. The examples from Halikarnassos, Labraunda and Priene indicate the usage of a standard way of painting and point to the unity of the Hekatomnids’ architectural decoration as seen on many parts of the architectural progress of the region.

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