Δευτέρα, 2 Ιανουαρίου 2017


The basic intention of this work is to demonstrate clearly how the ideology of the Aegean peoples during the Late Bronze Age incorporates in wall paintings, in its iconographic programs, symbolism and ritual, particularly in the depiction of the natural environment, which has central position in the objectification and spread of that ideology on citizens or nationals of the state through the process of their education.
 In the Late Bronze Age a civilization was developed in the Aegean, belonging mostly in the world of the Eastern Mediterranean, but also deeply independent. In the East during the same period there has been a flourishing of cultures with mutual deep influences. However, the Aegean civilizations, the Minoan civilization, the Cycladic and the Mycenaean, tried through their art- among others - to build their own ethnic identity, to give their own mark in the Mediterranean world. Art and especially the monumental painting, through the public and private expression, contributed a lot to that aim, to "educate" people to form their own cultural characteristics. Thus, they were able to stand out from the Egyptians and the Canaanites, with whom they had very close relations, both in politics and religion, commerce and art. So, wall-paintings were used as a "school" that educated the inhabitants of the Aegean world in an ideology, on which the first great civilization of Europe was based.
So, why do we think that the frescoes can play a role in building the state ideology and thus how they can educate the generations of a society to an ideology associated with ethnic characteristics?

First of all, you will comprehend the murals as an integral part of social life of the people and not as decorative objects in exposure conditions.

Apart from this, the wall-paintings serve as visualization elements of signified. Pure architectural surfaces are activated, they lose the neutral character, the distinction between open - closed space is cancelled. A characteristic of the mural painting is that it constitutes a representation through images, it is a visual idiom and in parallel a communication medium. It constitutes a narrative text, which formulates central concepts and symbols, making them tangible and it deposits in space. The iconography to a large extent is reproduced if the meanings in the context of a "long-term" are reproduced, which aimed at justification, support and reproduction of that authority which designated its construction.
To achieve this, Aegean peoples used the depiction of the landscape in murals as an ideological element, considering that the landscape has a very important role in the ideological construction they wished.

We will examine the features of the Aegean iconography associated with a special element which characterizes the way collectivity is expressed; i.e. how the Aegean natural environment is depicted on Aegean frescoes and how this type of depiction illustrates the “constructing” of an ethnic landscape.
. In order to succeed in this, Aegean people usually turned to symbolism. So, it looks like the selection of some themes, associated with natural environment in Minoan and Theran art, is not random at all. The significance of the patterns, which are repeated but also possess a specific place in the “architecture” of the representation, shows that they are charged with special meanings. Moreover, the repetition of the same figurative units in diverse archaeological contexts (utensils, seals, jewellery), and the ritual of the rules followed in the representation impose their association with special meanings expressing a symbolic idea for the people who conceived them. So, a “symbolic narrative” is composed referring to cultural processes that affect the Minoan lifestyle.
In this frame, between the edges of symbolism and representation, are these special features of Aegean iconography that allow the configuration of Ethnic Landscapes and are associated with nature. It is the representation of a number of conventions and hybrid depictions of the natural world, that seem to relate directly to ideology – maybe not with our contemporary meaning of the term ideology, but at least freed from financial or other associations such as tradition or social memory.

On the other hand though, In Egypt, illustration is a separate, special chapter in studying the way landscapes were depicted in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 2nd millennium BC, during which it dominated the region from an economic and a cultural point of view. At the same time, the Aegean had developed a multidimensional way of communication with Egypt, exchanging merchandise, people, ideas and… “art”. This kind of contact in turn, participated in forming an art, where each group of people contributed in their own way in depicting the landscape, maintaining, to a great extent, their own ethnic characteristics.
Egyptian iconography cannot be understood – like other forms of prehistoric art– outside its special functions and ideological or religious context.
The Egyptians’ attempt to impose the invariance on their iconography (sculptured, graven, wall-paintings, in both anthropogenic and natural landscapes), in the context mentioned above, turned out to be a kind of regularity to a great extent.
It has been stressed that this invariance is interpreted by the standardization principle.  Naturally, both the canon and the invariance do not find their roots in esthetic choices. On the contrary, we could state that they serve social decisions. Nevertheless, the Egyptian iconography is idealistic, it has an intense symbolism and it can be viewed in a religious, ritual and of course in a social context, since the viewers of the representation should be integrated in an homogenized ethnic community, in order for the message to be semantically recognisable. Usually, this message is considered to be a medium of reproducing political power and dominance over the world based on its regularity. Thus, we must consider the canon as an ideological element promoting the static, which is finally surpassed by social principles, but also the esthetic that, at the end, has an impact on the art. Even though it is characterized by similarity, in the end innovation manages to enforce itself (see the New Kingdom and Amarna period).
In conclusion, one could argue that the canon in Egyptian iconography gives some data that the artist should strictly keep to. Not only external but also internal factors influenced deeply the evolution of art in Egypt. The repression of the Hyksos during New Kingdom, and especially during the 18th Dynasty, makes the changes and innovations in the Egyptian art even more tangible. The artistic trends are liberated from the conventions and the themes are often characterized by uniqueness. We observe that the elements of natural environment evolve in an illustrative way and receive some elements associated with the Aegean art, probably combined with internal movements in Egypt, and thus are worth being thoroughly investigated. In this way, we realize that by not having clarified the seriousness of the Aegean impact, we stand to the point that Ethnic Landscapes reveal the dynamics that the iconography, as well as the iconography of the natural environment has in its interaction with other people’s arts.
Summarizing the references to the appearance of the iconographic programs, motifs and thematic in other means of expression during the Bronze Age, we could argue that the patterns we see in the Aegean murals are not the product of "parthenogenesis". Any contact with other cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean, as close as they are, cannot demonstrate here the beginnings of the Minoan iconography, which seems to be a case inside Crete. The mural painting appears in the Aegean during the Middle Minoan III initially in Crete, and particularly in the palatial surroundings of Knossos, as a key component of Minoan art with specific uses and purposes. Certainly, the study needs to be integrated into the wider question about the role of palaces and villas, possible as control centers of construction and redistribution of raw materials, craftsmen and products. Certainly, anyone considering the specific functional role of the frescoes on the life of Minoan or Mycenaean people, will consider how the artist was expressing the experiencing of the landscape and how the viewer was receiving it. The stamps, the Kamares pottery, the pottery "of prestige", the floral, the marine and the palatial style, the murals and the ornate jewelry, all related each other (theme, time, etc.) probably because they  served the same - palatial - ideology. They incorporate or represent the same status symbols, which explain the particular nature as well, carrying entitlement to specific readings from the viewer. However, it should be emphasized that these pictorial units not suddenly appeared in the MMII period in the frescoes, but instead we encounter in their development at other means of expression of human perception of the landscape as well, including written pottery, seals or jewelry.
The concept of ethnic identity, which derives from the ideology dominant during the establishing of the European national states, does not always allow us to consider the exchange of ideas of ethnic groups as an interaction degree and as a degree that reflects the closeness of their relation. Whereas its homogenization – which reflects the material culture – refers to the relation and interaction, its discontinuity -referring to the socio-political relation- is due to the natural distance that exists between ethnic groups. The cultural role that the ethnic qualities have is obvious, while at this point, we should emphasise that a direct association between cultural similarities / dissimilarities and ethnic limits rarely exists. Despite that, the cultural practices, and ethnic characteristics which might be potentially a part of them, create symbols via which the acting subjects materialize their cultural distinctive traits (through similarities or dissimilarities or even both of them) and thus, their identity in regard to the others. This materializing is reflected in the material culture and can be considered as evidence of the subject’s identity.
Moreover, the collectivities modulate the landscape they experience as an identity. In other words, the socio-cultural identity the collectivities create and express is converted in notion of landscape, amongst others. The reminiscences, the stories, the comprehension, the temporality, the social activity are the means that the collectivities use in order to create the notion of landscape and to express that notion through the representative art, announcing at the same time their collective identity. Thus, the Ethnic Landscapes are associated not only with the space but also with the identities of the collectivities that generate them.
Thus, the Aegean inhabitant either uses the symbols delivered to them or creates new ones or even alters the ones belonging to other peoples with who they comes into cultural contact (Egyptians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Hittites etc), in order to define their self-reference and develop ethnic characteristics. These characteristics will on the one hand distinguish them, from these people, by enhancing the collectivity, and on the other hand, will enable themselves to come into contact with the aforementioned peoples, to co-evolve themselves and to co-operate with them, on the grounds of some specific capabilities they will develop.
In this frame, the Aegean inhabitants use the elements of the natural environment, either these are real or imaginary, native or exotic (the bisectors may not play a substantial role at that time), in order to depict a landscape that will enable them – beside the rest of the functions that such a representation might have – to create an element of self-reference so as to structure or develop an identity relative to their aspirations, according to their social memory, tradition, and feelings.
On the other hand, the ethnic characteristics include also the notion of diversity, of cultural difference form the “others”. And actually, apart from the references to “Egyptianization” of the Aegean area and the “Aegeanization” of Egypt, Egyptian art, mostly during the Old and Middle Kingdom, presents special features when depicting a landscape, as these features are primarily defined by the invariance and the Canon. But on the other hand, Aegean art too keeps having a special character, which allows the inhabitants of Cyclades and the Cretans and also the people of the Eastern Mediterranean with whom they came into contact, to realise the (self-) determination of the ethnicity in the Aegean area and the place it had inside of them. The highlights of the elements of the natural environment are reflections of the inhabitants’ ideology in the representative art. These reflections enable them to articulate their own cultural speech. Therefore, these people presented their ideology turning it into the material culture they produce and, in this case, into the frescoes on the wall of some specific buildings and spaces, materializing also the elements of the natural and the unrealistic environment which participate to that ideology. In this way, they set out the self-reference points that the subject would have used as such managing at this way to educate the new generations to that ideology they developed.

Δευτέρα, 9 Ιουνίου 2014

Πιστοποίηση Επιμόρφωσης από το Harvard University πάνω σε θέματα πρώιμης χριστιανικής φιλολογίας: Οι επιστολές του Αποστόλου Παύλου. 

Παρασκευή, 10 Ιανουαρίου 2014

Πιστοποίηση Επιμόρφωσης Από το Harvard University

Πιστοποίηση Επιμόρφωσης Από το Harvard University πάνω στο θέμα του Ιλιαδικού, Ησιόδειου και Τραγικού ήρωα στην Αρχαία Ελληνική Γραμματεία.

Κυριακή, 17 Ιουνίου 2012

Εισήγηση Παντελή Κομνηνού στο Second Interdisciplinary Conference: Disasters, Catastrophes and the Ends of the World in Sources, Pultusk Academy of Humanities, Poland

Second Interdisciplinary Conference: Disasters, Catastrophes and the Ends of the World in Sources

Pultusk Academy of Humanities, Poland

Ανακοίνωση Δρος Παντελή Κομνηνού με θέμα:

Volcanic LBA Activity and its reflection on Aegean frescoes

The intention of this paper is to reveal the role mural painting, depicting the Aegean volcanic nature during the Late Bronze Age, plays in the formation of a Landscape. These landscapes constitute the expression of a collective identity and acts as means of self-defining this identity in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Of course, humans produce ... art not only expressing beauty, pleasure or love. With their art people depict also the environment in which they lived, which is shaped and experienced. This environment can often be considered by us as hostile, cruel, and perhaps dangerous. For the people however who have experienced and materialized it into their art, this is their own environment, which is lived and experienced by their ancestors, which embodies the tradition, memories and what people have turned from place to landscape.
Firstly, let us see briefly what these ecological features of this place that experienced by the Aegean person are. Let us see in what context its activity has been introduced and transformed into landscape, defining to a large extent its identity in the Mediterranean.

The tectonic activity largely determines the configuration of the geomorphological landscape of the Aegean. The volcanic arc, the result of the movement of tectonic plates (Eurasian, Eastern, African), creates cracks and deformations, dips and elevations and natural earthquakes hob surface. The arc largely affects the southern coastal zone, while the north is affected by the moat of Anatolia. Certainly, the tectonic changes interact with the climate changes. So, after a lot of fluctuations, temperature undulations and interference of cold interglacial periods, from 8000 to 10000 years ago, a climate similar to the one we are having today, prevailed.

On the other hand, while the climatic conditions in the Cycladic islands are about the same as those of Crete, in geomorphology remarkable differences are observed. First, the communication between the islands is more difficult, as there is a proliferation of small islands where there are small communities. Subsequently, the morphology is quite different from Crete: The space is obviously more limited. The 'place' in most islands of the Cyclades in fact presents a remarkable feature: it is based on the contrast between the steep and rocky coast (N. Naxos, Amorgos, Folegandros) and hospitable coastal plains (Syros, SW Naxos). Other areas have steep rocky shores and other deep sheltered harbors. The interior of the Cyclades are always mountainous, but not uniform: there are bare hills interspersed by flat lands, while there are the very significant farming terraces that emphasize the continuity of farming methods to the present day. The forests are sparse and their remains are still preserved in some sheltered parts of islands (Naxos, Andros, Tinos). The logging for the needs of manifold requirements, the deforestation and the grazing had a negative impact on forest land that didn’t have the ability to be renewed. Beyond the discreet presence of the olive tree, which was a key productive asset, barley, beans and vines were cultivated. Millstones and tools demonstrate the cultivated types, allowing the assumption of cultivation methods such as crop rotation and the "rain-fed cultivation." Loom weights indicate livestocks while oxen (more rarely) and donkeys were used for various agricultural activities since the Bronze Age.

Rightfully, from all the islands of Cyclades, we should be focus on Thera. That's because, based on the evidence so far, it presents a significance and considerable interest in the establishment of a geomorphological landscape, remarkable and highly variable at the end of the Bronze Age: As mentioned above, along with Thera, Kimolos, Milos and Nisyros form the southern Aegean volcanic arc. The island of Thera has relatively recently developed some volcanic activity. Previously it consisted of limestone, marble and schist. The volcanic activity began about 100,000 years ago, and by successive eruptions the island has been continuously rebuilt. However, it is extremely difficult both to reconstitute the original form and the climate of these islands before the eruption in the Bronze Age and consequently the flora and fauna. It is generally considered to present a climatic stability, although some researchers argue that the last eruption (Cave Riva) affected the populations of mammals and thus shaped the island's forest cover. Certainly, the eruption of the Bronze Age was a reference point that marked the geomorphological evolution of the broader landscape of the eastern Mediterranean basin and consequently the populations who lived there. Dendrochronology evidence and even ice core samples suggest that the Aegean eruption affected the overall global climate. Certainly the adjacent areas were affected most severely by the explosion. The ash was transferred as far as Anatolia, the islands in the Aegean Sea and eastern Crete. On Kos and Rhodes thirty thick ash deposits are associated with the abandonment of settlements. The coastal areas of Egypt also received certain quantities of ash, as shown by the excavations at Tell el Dab'a (Abaris) where pumice found in local workshops was apparently collected for industrial use. Ash fell on Crete, especially on the east side, but not as thick as on Kos and Rhodes. However, it is considered that the impact on Crete must have been limited to a brief and transient disruption of crops without further effect on the economy of the island. What certainly seems remarkable as a result of the explosion is the possible removals of the island population. The inhabitants of the islands of the archipelago, and especially Thera will certainly sought refuge away from their islands, which also probably happened with the residents of neighboring areas. Perhaps minoanizing elements - among them the frescos - were spread through this route, arriving in areas such as Miletus, the Tell Kabri, the Alalakh and Tell el Dab'a, reinforcing, if not initiating, communication links between peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean.

I will examine the features of the Aegean iconography associated with a special element which characterizes the way collectivity is expressed; i.e. how the Aegean disaster natural environment is depicted on Aegean frescoes and how this type of depiction illustrates the “constructing” of a landscape.

A characteristic feature of frescoes is that through the use of images they constitute a representation that functions both as a visual idiom and a mean of communication. It also functions as a narrative text, giving shape to central ideas and symbols, turning them into something tangible and placing them in space. It provides symbols that organize and determine the world’s hierarchy, the process through which we view and conceive the world, that stimulate the memory, the imagination and the feeling. Largely, the art of illustration is reproduced as long as its notions, are reproduced in the frame of a “long-lasting period of time”, aiming at the justification, support and reproduction of the principle defining its existence.

Let us see now some of the frescoes of the Aegean, both of Minoan Crete and the Cyclades, comprising the most characteristic features of this landscape, which largely reflects the natural environment experienced by the Aegean person. Firstly, we will focus on a fresco from Knossos, called the "Crocus-Gatherer Monkey".
The floor which was located in the Old Fort area, above the "Cells", in the northwestern part of the Palace of Knossos, described by Evans himself as early. Furthermore, the color of the form (gray - blue), the depiction of the vessels with white spots, places where (or from where) it cuts flowers, containers mentioning "spiky" style, the red band around the edges, the flowers themselves, the way of representation of the rocky terrain, all refer to MMIII. Evans believes that, apart from the vessels, even the depiction of rocks, the colors of black, white and red, evoke the influence of kamares pottery and early MM period. But today, most scholars believe that the representation should be placed in MMIIIA period or a little later

Not so with another mural- which again features the blue monkey as its central theme but where the depiction of the animals appears more naturalistic: It is the "Fresco with Monkeys and Birds" from the House of the Frescoes, NW of the Palace, which was destroyed in 1550 BC (as restored by M.Cameron). The initial discovery was made by Evans in 1923, and in 1959 additional research was conducted by Professor Platon. Cameron restored the fragments giving to the Room Q the form of a frieze, a room whose walls were demolished after the earthquake mentioned above. Maybe it decorated the worship space upstairs, as it was customary in the Akrotiri areas, on Thera. The mural, as restored by Cameron, spans to three walls, with significant differences between them. Specifically, the dominant element of the background of the northern wall is red. In the central panel the red ground is bordered by a creek, over which the background is whitish, while a second stream, rolling along, is surrounded by a yellowish wavy band. This color almost disappears in the third panel (the south panel), where the background is completely off-dominant. The land on the north wall is rocky, while on the east and south walls, streams - waterfalls are added to the rocks along with their riparian landscape.
The pattern we saw in the "Crocus-gatherer” with the rocks embracing the figures all around is repeated here, but with the modernity that at certain parts  these rocks extend further out of the colorful wavy margins. Apart from the rocks, a special feature is the depiction of streams and their surrounding area with ribbed rounded pebbles and shingles, which thanks to their form are called "Easter eggs".

By moving further north on the island of Thera, we will find that the pictorial assemblages found there, contemporary or a little later than the Minoan, show a remarkable similarity in their theme and philosophy but also profound and essential differences from those on the island of Crete. Very distinctive and thematically relational fresco to that of "Monkey and Birds" from the House of the Frescoes, Crete is a similar one from Akrotiri on Thera, the "Monkey Fresco». Contemporary with the previous one, it is dated to LC IA , around 1550 BC and comes from the floor of Room B6. Eight monkeys appear here in a purely rocky landscape. The scene is bounded at the top by a frame in red, green and blue and just above there are white spirals with a blue center in a red background. The lower part of the scene depicts wave formations in blue, yellow and red. Conventionally perhaps this is a river depicted here. The monkeys are shown in a white background, while their hands are hunging from angular, jagged rocks in a brownish-red color. It has been suggested that these rocks are not an artistic convention, but both their shape and colors reflect the theran environment: The roughness of the ground reflects the volcanic rocks, while yellow represents sulfur and ash, red is for pumice, and blue for dark lava. In this environment thus the blue monkeys are shown, depicted to a stunning variety of attitudes.
Certainly, a secure conclusion would be that both the forms of the animals and the formation of the ground allow us to integrate the whole scene into a theran landscape where the artist undoubtedly observed these two elements directly in order to depict them on this wall painting.
A composition that illustrates very graphically the theran landscape is that of Room 5 of the West House, Akrotiri. It depicts nautical cities and an overseas trip of a fleet. The scenery covering the Eastern Frieze is crossed by a river. The riverside city III is depicted whose surrounding area is the river. The separation of water and the shore is a black outline from which are sprouted forked appendages to water. The waters are depicted in blue color, while banks with pale, emphasizing their sandy nature. The forked appendages may be originated from the representation of coral-shaped rocks, such as those are depicted in MMIII marine scenes. The representations with pebbles along the riverbank on both sides are sensationally impressive. They are in various colors and sizes, while the eight-shaped pebbles, which are larger than the others and found only in the Miniature Frieze, are unique in Aegean painting. The subject of pebbles, the "Easter eggs" are commonplace in LM IA - B painting of the Aegean - is eminently Minoan pictorial norm - and will pass into the Mycenaean pictorial art. The landscape, however, includes rocks depicted in the lower part of the frieze in the form of wavy lines, of various color tones (ocher, blue, yellow), which undoubtedly represent their veins. The representation with the broad lines and curves imitating the veins the limestone dadoes, can only bring us to mind the depiction of the rocks of “Crocus Gatherer” but also the frieze with" partridge "of Karavanserai. The effort to depict by a naturalistic way the terrain all over the miniature frieze is notable. On the south wall two mountain ranges and one on the north wall are depicted viewed by the sea. The coast is shown by the convention of the aspective view, from above, forming coves and bays with irregular arcs and curves, combining appearance and plan view while creating a sense of perspective. The environment of the Departure of the Fleet on the south wall is a characteristic depiction of the Aegean landscape. Many researchers proceed to identifications with real sites of the Mediterranean and in particular of the Aegean, taking into account the representations of mountains, beaches and harbors.
For the depiction of the rocky landscape, the artist uses various color tones, whose rotation has been placed decoratively, but can be associated, at least at the case of the Departure area and the City V with geological rock formations and the colors that resulted from the Big eruption of Thera (c. 1470 BC). Of course, the artist observed and attributed the landscape surrounding him. The soil was volcanic before the big explosion and was formed by previous eruptions of lower intensity. The depiction may therefore not due to artistic convention, but on observation and mapping of geological peculiarities of the island. The mountain range of the city IV is defined with a black line and arched recesses. The other surface has successive zones of various colors, red, pale, bluish. Noteworthy is the convention used in the statement of the rocks: recesses with - forked appendage that points to the rendering of both the bank of "Nilotic landscape" and the rocks of "fresco of monkeys and birds" of Knossos. The background of the city is defined white, as in most Theran frescoes, while the river on both sides has ocher bands like the river of the eastern wall. The beaches, both on the south wall and the north, are depicted using coral-shaped rocks found already on the faience items of MMIII. The sandy beaches are usually depicted using pale band

In this frame, the Aegean inhabitants depicts on the walls, amongst others, the landscape that entourages them and which he experience via numerous and manifold aspects. They use the elements of the natural environment, in order to depict a landscape that will enable them – beside the rest of the functions that such a representation might have – to create an element of self-reference so as to structure or develop an identity relative to their aspirations, according to their social memory and/or tradition, and feelings.

The highlight of the elements of the natural environment in regard to the human and even the divine presence in the representations, the dominance of a more free spirit in depicting the figurative units, the special hybrids and the conventions used in Aegean art, the choices made by the painter, and many more, are reflections of the inhabitants’ ideology in the representative art. These reflections enable them to articulate their own cultural speech in the, as it seems, complicated reality of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze Age. Therefore, these people presented their ideology turning it into the material culture they produce and, in this case, into the frescoes on the wall of some specific buildings and spaces, materializing also the elements of the disaster natural environment which participate to that ideology. In this way, they set out the self-reference points that the subject would have used as such.

Additionally, to the question whether the landscape can be used in order to demonstrate the cultural identity of a collectivity, the answer is evidently affirmative, if one thinks that the Aegean similarities and dissimilarities in the way natural environment is depicted, the special character the Aegean art has in its three aspects (Minoan, Cycladic, Mycenaean), a character which contributes to the creation of this cultural identity which is also verified by other aspects of the material culture such as pottery and the seal-engraving, the ideology reflected in this art, everything points to the conclusion that the representation of natural environment in the Aegean area is associated with the forming of a substantial and totally necessary for the collectivity’s social coherence socio-cultural identity.