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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/3059

Title: A Bronze Age enigma: the 'u-shaped' motif in Aegean architectural representations
Authors: Shaw, Maria C.
Keywords: Excavations (Archaeology) - Greece - Kommos (Crete)
Bronze Age
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: Program in Aegean Scripts and Prehistory
Citation: Shaw, Maria C. A Bronze Age Enigma: The 'U-Shaped' Motif in Aegean Architectural Representations. Aegaeum 20, MELETEMATA. Studies in Aegean Archaeology Presented to Malcolm H. Wiener as He Enters his 65th Year. Edited by Philip Betancourt, Vassos Karageorghis, Robert Laffineur and Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier (vol. 3), 1999: p. 769-779, plus illustrations.
Abstract: Of the many pictorial depictions of the motif under consideration, I illustrate two examples only, given its rather consistent rendering. They show details of once more extensive frescoes from two Late Bronze Age palaces- at Knossos in Crete (Pl. CLXXIIa) and on the Acropolis at Mycenae on the Greek Mainland (Pl. CLXXIIb ). The motif, which always appears on facades of buildings, has been compared in the past to the capital letter U, a term I also use for consistency, although the resemblance is not exact. The motif consists of a horizontal band, with two shorter bands rising from its two ends; the letter's upright elements are longer than its horizontal part. The motif never occurs singly; it is repeated at regular and fairly close intervals in a stacked arrangement along vertical surfaces, the architectural identification of which is puzzling. One further feature to be noted is that the vertical elements or strips are usually shown flanking large openings, perhaps representing windows or loggias. Two main interpretations have been put forward for the vertical strips: 1) that they represent posts; 2) that they represent wall antae. The wall in the latter case must be understood as being transverse, but since Minoan representation does not use foreshortening, only its narrow end is shown. This explains the difficulty of determining which is the correct identification, though there are other representational clues that can help us decide, as will be discussed with reference to specific examples below. Neither of the two suggestions above, nor other interpretations offered in the past have had the advantage of offering a concrete example that would match and explain the motifs details. My wish to attempt a solution to this iconographic enigma, which to my view has not yet been satisfactorily explained, stems from archaeological evidence I uncovered some ten years ago in excavating in the Civic area of the Minoan site of Kommos. First, however, I shall review the pictorial evidence, starting with Crete, where both the actual architectural technique and the artistic conventions for representing the particular architectural feature probably originated.
Description: 14 p. : ill. - This article has been scanned and reformatted by the T-Space Digitization Project Assistant. If a researcher is interested in referencing this work, it is recommended that the citation listed above be consulted, as the page numbers of the PDF file do not match those of the original publication.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/3059
Appears in Collections:Journal articles, conference papers and book chapters

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