helens_daughter (helens_daughter) wrote,

Three Ladies With No Heads

I've posted about the Ladies In Blue fresco before, back when I did a watercolor reproduction of the trio.


In researching the Saffron Goddess and Tiryns Double-S frescoes, I learned something intriguing about the Ladies In Blue that I'm surprised and a bit embarrassed that I hadn't noticed before.

Nothing of the Ladies' heads survives.

That's right.  Look at the patches of original fresco material.  You may even have to find a larger image of the fresco if you can't click on the one above and blow it up.  Not a single piece comes from any of the three Ladies' heads.  We know that there are three ladies, we know how they're oriented, and how they're dressed.  We even have an idea of part of the hairstyle from a surviving piece of the shoulder tress, but the rest of it--the elaborately coiffed hairdos with the pearls, the bandeaux, and the pin curls--that comes from the conjecture of Sir Arthur Evans and the Gillierons.

The faces, hairdos, and other, added details came from comparable works discovered elsewhere at Knossos.  The three faces come from the male figures of the Cupbearer Fresco; it's difficult to tell because of the color difference, with the males being rendered in reddish-brown, the ladies in chalk white.

It was for this sort of thing and other, worse infractions such as outright forgery that gave Evans and the Gillierons the dubious reputation they now have in the archaeological community.  Evans shaped the popular perception of the Minoans in a way that reflected his own sentiments, and that we still haven't been able to fully shake off.  The original Ladies In Blue fresco as painted by its ancient Minoan artist might very well have looked just like the "reconstituted" view of them, but we can't say for sure.
Tags: archaeology, artwork, forgeries, frescoes, gillieron, knossos, minoans, sir arthur evans
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