Drawing; Ancient Painting; 19th Century; Photography; Archaeology; Cimmerian Bosporus; Archival Records
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, UNIL/Etudes Bosporanes, Lausanne.
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The here submitted project aims to utilize the historical archives kept at the Institute ofHistory of Material Culture (Saint Petersburg), which contain information about thenational heritage painted wall plaster and stuccoworks discovered in southern Russiaduring the second half of the nineteenth century. Never before scientifically exploited,this documentation constitutes a unique proof of the ancient Greco-Romanmonuments discovered at Kerch, which today have mostly disappeared. Colourfulvestiges of buildings erected on the Panticapaeum Acropolis - the ancient capital of thekingdom of the Cimmerian Bosporus - fragments of painted wall plaster andstuccowork comprise the precious pictorial heritage of the world of the living, while thewalls and vaults of painted tombs from the city’s cemeteries provide glimpses of thefuneral rituals and concepts of the afterlife, disseminated by the local aristocracyduring the Roman era.The immense work of examination and systematization of handwritten documents,artworks and photographs will be used as the contents of a database, which willprovide both an access to the material and a digital backup available on the Internet.An innovative research theme traverses the material that constitutes the corpus: theRussian and Swiss team will endeavour to identify the modalities of the technologicalchange from painting to photography for the documentation of ancient monuments.This question will be explored through three major projects: the first project concernsmaking an annotated catalogue of the painted wall plaster fragments and stuccoworkdiscovered at Kerch between 1896 and 1899. This heritage, deposited in the StateHermitage Museum and already examined and recorded by the Swiss team, needs tobe considered in the light of the documentation at the time in order to bere-established in its context and reinstated in the Greco-Roman world. The secondproject focuses on an emblematic funerary monument, The Tomb of Demeter, and onthe pertinence of its adherence to the pictorial style (‘floral style’) founded by thefamous Russian scientist M. I. Rostovtsev. The study of the compositions of the paintedtomb, discovered in 1895, documented at the time by watercolours and photographs,reveals many ritual and symbolic funerary elements. The third project brings light tothe life and work of the artist painter F. I. Gross who observed and visuallydocumented the larger part of archaeological discoveries made at Kerch during thesecond half of the nineteenth century. Gross carefully painted images of manymonuments and their paintings, which are today irreparably damaged or lost. He isalso a representative of a generation that saw the advent of the photograph; the newmedium that allowed the making of an image ‘identical to’ a monument.The contribution of the project to scientific research, the preservation andenhancement of the archaeological heritage inherited from the Greco-Roman Antiquityon Russian soil is indisputable. The complementariness and proven expertise of themembers of the Russian-Swiss team guarantee a harmonious collaboration, high levelof work quality and innovative results for archaeology on the international level. Theproposed methodologies allow an appropriate approach for material to be examined,are clearly established and will be the subject of presentations at conferences andround table discussions.