Co-financed from the “Excellent Science” program of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Republic of Poland
Julia Burdajewicz, Late Antique Wall Paintings from Porphyreon in the Sidon Hinterland (=Polish Publications in Mediterranean Archaeology 7). Peeters Publishers
Polish Publications in Mediterranean Archaeology is a PCMA UW book series published by Peeters Publishers.
On a spring day in 1975, a bulldozer excavating sand on a beach in southern Lebanon pulled out of the dunes dressed stones with remains of wall paintings. This accidental discovery led to the full-scale excavations of a Late Antique settlement, identified later with ancient Porphyreon. Exploration of the residential district and a large basilical church brought to light close to 300 fragments of wall paintings representing jeweled crosses, human figures, animals, plants, geometric motifs, and painted Greek inscriptions. The importance of the discovery was immediately clear: the abundance of the paintings and the iconographic repertoire they represent remain unmatched by the finds from any other Late Antique archaeological site in the Eastern Mediterranean. Unfortunately, due to their unappealing, fragmentary condition and the turbulent events of modern Lebanese history, the assemblage remained undocumented, unstudied, unpublished, and virtually forgotten for nearly four decades.
The present volume is the outcome of a comprehensive study on the wall paintings from Porphyreon carried out in 2014–2019 in the framework of the joint archaeological expedition of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology (PCMA) of the University of Warsaw and the Lebanese Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA). The study addresses a wide range of issues, including iconography of the particular representations and overall iconographic programs of the basilica and the houses, architectural contexts, style and artistic qualities, dating, execution techniques and employed materials. It also presents the current condition of the paintings and a conservation project which accompanied the research.
The study on the wall paintings from the basilica and houses of Porphyreon is a major contribution to the sorely underexplored subject—the Late Antique wall paintings from the Eastern Mediterranean and their particular role as descendants of Roman painting and forerunners of Byzantine art.
Julia M. Burdajewicz holds an MA in conservation and restoration of works of art and a PhD in archaeology. Her research focuses on the iconography, semantics, and materiality of monumental art: wall paintings, floor and wall mosaics, in particular from the Hellenistic period through Late Antiquity. She is an assistant professor of Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and a guest lecturer at the Faculty of Archaeology, University of Warsaw.