Neal Spencer, British Museum
The houses at Amara West can look a little drab to the modern eye: brown mud walls, often with brown mud plaster and even brown clay floors. We are missing the wooden furniture and any textiles that might have broken this monotony, but it is also clear that some parts of houses were brightly painted.
British Museum conservator Philip Kevin has been studying and conserving fragments of painted plaster on mud from Mat Dalton’s excavations in house E13.7 last year. After removing a rather dull white plaster layer from one fragment (F5133d), we can now see that earlier decoration featured yellow, blue, red and black.
It seems to consist of a yellow area bordered with a black line, and a more complex decorative motif to the right, which might have framed a door, or the shrine we believe was located in this room.
Further fragments will hopefully reveal more of the room’s original decoration, and the discovery of areas where pigments might have been prepared provides potential for further avenues of research.
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