Πρωτοχριστιανικές παραστάσεις και θέματα που μιμούνται την κοσμική ζωγραφική σε ταφικό συγκρότημα της Δυτικής Νεκρόπολης της ΘεσσαλονίκηςPart of : Δελτίον της Χριστιανικής Αρχαιολογικής Εταιρείας ; Vol.37, 1997, pages 125-150
Early Christian Representations and Themes Imitating Secular Painting in a Grave Complex
At 7 Dimosthenous street in the municipality of Ambelokipi, which is part of the ancient West Cemetery ofThessaloniki, a double chamber tomb was found lootedand filled with rubble. The top had been squared off outside by covering the vaults with masonry and a coat of hydraulic plaster to make it waterproof. The tombs have ahorizontal entrance and a built pillow at the west end oftheir marble floor.Tomb / (1.80 χ 1.30 χ 1.75 m) is decorated with scenesfrom the Old and New Testaments. The representationsare organized in panels, four on the long sides and one onthe narrow, framed by a red band (w. 6 cm) and filled withalternating green and blue bands outlined in black. At thetop of the east wall is a narrow zone with a peacock and aduck, while below is a scene of Adam and Eve. On thewest wall, against the entrance, is the Good Shepherd,while on the arch is a blue hydria flanked by peacocks. Inthe first panel of the south wall is a standing male figure,probably Christ, pushing back his right sleeve as if preparing to wash his hands. The representation is most unusual and could be interpreted as a purification sceneinvolving Christ or some other biblical person. The second panel depicts Moses removing his sandal (left) andthe Burning Bush (right). The third shows Daniel in thelions' den. Represented in the fourth panel on the southwall is a young man seated inside a library and holding ascroll in both hands. The scene is associated with the idealportrait of the new man, who combines Greek educationwith the Christian faith. The first panel of the north wallfeatures two figures; a beardless man dressed in chitonand himation rests his hand on the head of a young manclad in a hide. It is a scene of blessing and healing. Thescene in the second panel, of an enthroned man with awoman standing behind him, perhaps represents theowner of the tomb and his wife. There follows the sceneof Moses striking the rock with his staff, in order to drawwater. Last there is the representation of the Raising ofLazarus. The ceiling decoration consists of floral garlandsdividing the barrel vaults into four triangles. Those corresponding to the short sides of the tomb enclose aflower, while in their counterparts for the long sides arepeacocks facing opposite directions.Tomb II (1.75 χ 1.35 χ 1.75 m) is decorated with abstractthemes imitating secular painting. Two panels cover thelong walls and one panel the narrow walls. The panels aredefined inside by a broad band divided by a fine red line,and outside by a broader band of imitation marble revetment.In the upper part of the east wall is a blue bird withspread wings pecking a plant. Below this zone is a greenrectangle filled with wavy black lines forming flame-tipesalong the shorter sides. This rectangle encloses anotherrectangle divided by a diagonal black line into two rightangle triangles, one dark and the other light green. Onthe south wall, on a ground of imitation red marble, is alozenge framed by a white band divided by a fine red line.The lozenge projects beyond the frame. Then comes anarrow band of bright green followed by a dark greenlozenge, at the centre of which is a circle in two shades ofred and surrounded by a decorative wavy line. The rectangular motif is repeated in the other panel on the southwall, while on the west wall there is a blue-framedlozenge. On the west arch is a chi-rho motif flanked bytwo doves. The themes of the panels on the north wallcorrespond to those of the south. The ceiling decorationis particularly interesting: narrow red bands describetriangles around squares, and are combined into octagonsand rosettes. The octagons contain wreaths, rosettes orfruit. The painting is attributed to one of the city's foremost workshops and can be dated by comparison withanalogous examples to the Beau Style, specifically to thedecade 360-370.