Color Symbolism in the Aegean Bronze Age

Project: Research

Layman's description

Surrounded as we are by color, we often do not consider its social and psychological impact. This project studies the colors (hues, degree of shininess, and color intensity)of gifts found in Late Bronze Age graves (and later settlements) from the Greek mainland to see whether the choices give any clues as to the meaning for the giver and the message (meant to be) received by the observer.

Surrounded and bombarded as we are every day by color, natural and artificial, we seldom if ever reflect on our reactions to colors and why. Further, reactions can be completely personal, and/or based on variables such as fashion, age, sex, geographic location, and many other things. In some older civilizations, we also find symbolism inherent in color, such as in Pharaonic Egypt. We know much about ancient Egypt thanks to the fact that they had writing, and recorded the meanings. In other contemporary cultures, however, such as the Aegean Bronze Age societies that were non- or protoliterate, we have only the archaeological remains to go after.

My project revolves around registering all objects found in tombs to start with, as graves are more likely to include all the finds than settlements. I am registering all tomb finds by hue, degree of shininess, and intensity to see whether there are patterns. If so, what do these patterns mean? Can we understand them? In preliminary studies I have determined that shininess seems to be the most important variable for all types of materials, and white, yellow and blue the by far most popular hues. Intensity does not seem to matter much. I shall register as much of all grave material as I can to see whether this pattern holds. A second step would be to look at settlement material, to see whether the same tendencies exist. By applying this to what is known of the Aegean and contemporary societies, interpretations will be attempted.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date2010/01/012012/12/31

Participants