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Early Medieval Paintings and Other Decorated Surfaces

In the Chapel of the Medical Saints surfaces with decorations belonging to three historical phases are preserved.

Detail of the painted decoration made during Domitian’s reign

The light coloured wall plaster present on the higher portions of the walls belongs, most probably, to the decoration of the room dating back to Domitian’s (81-96 A.D.) period.  

Remains of the large squared decorations are portions of a red band which also indicate the existence of an horizontal stucco moulding.

 

 

 

View of the walls with the holes for the insertion of the marble slab metal holding pins During the same period, the lower portions of the walls were sheeted with marble slabs.

In fact, numerous square holes, placed along three horizontal lines at regular intervals, are present on the brick surfaces.

Metal holding pins were placed in these holes in order to fix the marble slabs to the wall.

 

 

 

Detail of the marble wedge for the fixture of the slabs In some of these holes small marble wedges, used for a better fixture of the marble slab holding pins, are still visible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail of the western wall

The early medieval wall paintings represent the Medical Saints.

Their names are indicated with Greek inscriptions: Cosmas, Damian, Abba Cyrus, Panteleimon etc.

At the center of the wall there is a portrait without any inscription. This portrait, identified as Christ Pantocrator, is dressed with a red tunic and has long curly hair and a thick beard.

The paintings on the walls and that in the niche are painted by different artists, even if the analogies in the painted inscriptions suggest a similar dating.

 

Detail of the velum

The VIII century painters used the fresco technique: the pigments mixed only with water or highly diluted lime, were applied while the plaster was still damp.

The plaster is composed of lime and grounded hay of which many impressions are visible on the surface.

The use of hay and the near total absence of sand is typical of traditional Byzantine wall plaster and seems to strengthen the hypothesis of many scholars who claim that the artists were oriental.

 

 

Detail of the corner between the northern and eastern walls A small painting fragment on the eastern wall near the corner adjoining the northern wall, testifies that the paintings were extended to this wall also.

 

There is speculation that female sex Medical Saints were represented here.

 

   

 

Painting of a consecration cross made during the abandonment phase of the church

A consecration cross, painted on layer of diluted lime plaster applied to the brick wall surface and on the lower part of John VII’s velum, indicates that the use of the chapel most probably continued after the church’s abandonment following the earthquake of 847.

 Other evidences belonging to this period are the leaf crown and the remains of probably Greek inscriptions on the light coloured wall plaster on the higher portion of the long wall.