The Oldest Christian Frescoes

December, 14 2010 | Ioannes Stobaeus


The main goal of the project: Conservation and restoration of the wall paintings from the Episcopal basilica at Stobi, sponsored by the USA Embassy, is to preserve the unique remains of Early Christian wall paintings from the Episcopal Basilica (4th - 5th century AD). These are the oldest Christian frescoes in Republic of Macedonia.


The first and the second phase of the project are already finished.


During the first phase, chemical analysis of the pigments and the bedding, using non-destructive methods with the micro-Raman spectrometer, was performed. All the pigments derive from earthen minerals. Of all pigments that were subdued to analysis, only the green pigment was probably imported from Italy, from the mines near Verona and mount Baldo, while all the others can be found on the territory of Republic of Macedonia.


Professor Biljana Minceva-Sukarova, PhD, from the ForcaSpecsLab at the Institute of Chemistry, University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, carried out the analysis.


The second phase consists of different activities that precede the removal of the frescoes from the southern wall of the Old Episcopal Church (photographing the wall paintings in situ and technical drawing).


It is important to mention that there are two layers of wall paintings, one atop of the other, which requires a very careful approach before the removal of the frescoes. The second, later phase is poorly preserved. Both phases have similar decoration: panels with tapestry designs and imitation of marble encrustation between stylized Corinthian pilasters rendered in mixed technique of al fresco and al secco. (Photos)


The third phase of the project will start in March 2011.

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