Ancient Palace Floor Designed to Both Impress and Instruct Visitors
A closer look at the floor found in the throne room of an ancient Mycenaean palace revealed that the floor's designs were painted so as to represent a union of cloth and stone, and in doing so not only impress visitors to the regal hall, but instruct them.
The paintings, which date back to between 1300-1200 BC, are found in the Palace of Nestor, one of the best-preserved palaces dating back to the civilization that flourished during the late Bronze Age in Greece.
According to Emily Egan, a doctoral student at the University of Cincinnati, the palace floor differs from its contemporaries in that its variety of patterns was supposed to represent both cut stone and carpet. The result is a "new, clever way to impress visitors while simultaneously instructing them on where to look and how to move within the space."
The design's purpose appears to have been to "supersede reality," and in doing so, underscore the power of the monarch, Egan said.
"It depicted something that could not exist in the real world, a floor made of both carpet and stone. As such, the painting would have communicated the immense, and potentially supernatural power of the reigning monarch, who seemingly had the ability to manipulate and transform his physical environment."
As well, Egan believes it was designed to draw attention to a diagonal in the floor's grid design. Although past research has suggested the diagonal was a mistake, Egan disagrees, particularly due to evidence of small corrections made on the painted tiles.
"Since they corrected such small mistakes, it seems highly unlikely that those same artists would have left a major error, like misaligning a large portion of the room's floor, uncorrected. Instead, I believe that the diagonal was intentional - a way to draw both a visitor's eyes and his or her footsteps toward the throne positioned along the right-hand wall of the room. It was painting with a purpose."