The Byzantine wall paintings from the protaton church on Mount Athos, Greece: tradition and science
The present work is a study of the wall painting complex in the Protaton Church (1295) on Mount Athos, Greece. These paintings, high in artistic value, are themselves a monument-representative of the Macedonian iconographic style. What follows is historic data set against the results of analytical investigations: the fruit of extensive research aimed at determining precise details about the applied painting techniques for the wall paintings. Hitherto it has been held that what was traditionally defined as "Byzantine fresco" was executed only on wet plaster with limewater as the sole binding medium. Now, however, through the application of instrumental analytical investigations, it is possible to demonstrate that a mixed technique involving both alfresco and al secco was employed. Furthermore, it was determined, on the basis of results from gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC/MS), that egg together with a modest amount of animal glue were the organic binding media used for the Protaton art work. It is certain that the scenes were initially begun on wet plaster. During or even after drying the painting was completed using the aforementioned protein binding media, thanks to which a more resistant cohesion to the painted layers was secured. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.