Understanding the Palace of Nestor Throne Room floor
Past Horizons, 07-01-2014
The floors of Greek Bronze Age palaces were made of plaster that was often incised and painted with grids containing brightly coloured patterns and/or marine animal figures. In researching one such floor in the Throne Room at the Palace of Nestor, one of the best-preserved palaces of the Mycenaean civilization, University of Cincinnati Department of Classics doctoral student Emily Catherine Egan has found evidence that the floor’s painted designs, dating back to between 1300-1200 BC, were meant to replicate a physical hybrid of cloth and stone – serving not only to impress but also to instruct the ancient viewer. Her work at the Palace of Nestor builds on a long tradition in UC’s McMicken College of Arts and Sciences since the remains of the site were first discovered in 1939 by UC archaeologist Carl Blegen.
According to Egan, “Mycenaean palatial floor paintings are typically believed to represent a single surface treatment – most often cut stone or pieced carpets. At Pylos, however, the range of represented patterns suggests that the floor in the great hall of the palace was deliberately designed to represent both of these materials simultaneously, creating a new, clever way to impress visitors while simultaneously instructing them on where to look and how to move within the space.” As part of her work with UC’s Hora Apotheke Reorganization Project (HARP), Egan conducted research on the painted floor at the Palace of Nestor from 2012-13. She examined first-hand sections of the floor, as well as published and unpublished excavation documents and drawings.