Session: #390

Theme & Session Format

4. Polis, Empire, League and Beyond – Living in Interconnected Societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

All on Walls. Current Issues on Historical Wall Painting Science, Conservation, and Restoration
Four walls make a room, but what happens to them afterwards is what makes them “home”. During the Roman empire decorating wall-spaces was an integral part of ancient life and great effort, both technical and (often) financial, were made to transform a structural necessity into something that could uplift the spirit as well as communicate power and prestige through elaborate motifs and the use of expensive materials. Often this took the form of wall paintings, but decorative plaster, moldings, and tiles were used as well. Technological choices in ancient products and the provenance of resources are interesting meeting points for discussing cultural change and trade interactions in human history. Moreover, although it is a building-related art, the information we take from wall decorations is not always preserved in situ. Often, archaeological fragments are the only accessible resources, collections of which provide valuable information about their excavation, storage, conservation, and presentation history in addition to their archeological meaning.
An interdisciplinary dialogue between archaeologists, natural scientists, conservators, and curators is required to address the challenges of collection management and those related to the analysis of archaeological materials. We invite contributions that inspire this dialogue, and discuss their work on, e.g., the development of analytical instruments and techniques for cultural heritage research, production technology and provenance of materials used for wall paintings and other architectural elements. We also welcome contributions that address issues related to the conservation/restoration of wall paintings, representative and ethical sample selection, and storage, past and current display, and modern reconstruction of decorated wall surfaces.
Roman wall decoration, Materials provenance, Production technology, Ancient polychromy, Collections management
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Main organiser:
Anthony Baragona (Austria) 1,2
Alexandra Rodler (Austria) 3,4
Rebecca Tehrani (Germany) 5
1. Freelance Conservation Scientist
2. University of Applied Arts Vienna
3. Austrian Archaeological Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences
4. Department of Lithospheric Research, University of Vienna
5. Dresden University of Fine Arts