The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that a cohesive decorative program was designed for the throne room complex of the Late Helladic IIIB palace at Pylos, and that its iconography responded to the unit's royal function. Although throughout history many rulers have embellished their palaces with decorative systems intended to visually reinforce their own power, this is the first time that a decorative program of any type has been identified in an Aegean Bronze Age palace. New reconstructions of the megaron wall paintings are based on the frescoes published by Dr. Mabel Lang (1969), a series of unpublished frescoes listed in the Catalogue, and information gleaned from the excavation notebooks. The reconstructions show that the megaron decoration included an impressive gift-bearing procession, a bull sacrifice, and a banquet scene with lyre player, three activities that are here identified as components of an important religious festival, similar to those documented in Classical Greece. While this festival was a key feature of the megaron's program, it was complemented by other subjects, only one of which can be fully identified: the large-scale lion and griffin that guarded the throne and its occupant. Although clearly distinguished by their subject matter, the figures' size, and background color, the two groups were bound by their orientation toward, and iconographic relevance to, the central throne: the lion and griffin ensured the enthroned ruler's protection, and perhaps reflected his physical strength; the festival activities implied a desire to perpetuate religious rituals (thus ensuring divine favor), and suggested the king's ability to provision such festivals and provide the stability that festivals strove to ensure. In conclusion, it is argued that the Pylos megaron frescoes followed a coherent program that was characterized by thematic and compositional unity, and that responded directly to the Throne Room's political function. More specifically, we have here for the first time in the Late Helladic repertory what seems to be evidence of the ruler's direct association both with the festival calendar and with an explicit ideology of divine protection and sound rule.
Supervisor: Irene J. Winter. Thesis (Ph.D. in History of Art)--Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, 1987. Includes bibliography.