Thousands upon thousands of plaster fragments, both antique and modern, have been recovered during the sifting. Mostly plain, but the shear volume of our finds has allowed us to amass thousands of painted plaster pieces, including ancient frescoes.
The word fresco, derived from the Italian word meaning “fresh”, refers to a specific type of decorative plaster, where the plaster is painted while still wet. This necessitated a fast and precise hand and a lot of pre-planning, but the result was vibrant, long-enduring paintings.
While earlier versions have been around since prehistory, classical frescoes first appeared in Israel during the Hellenisitic Period, and like many other techniques from the Greco-Roman world, it was drawn upon heavily by Herod.
Pictured above is a selection of plaster fragments reminiscent of the Second Pompeian Style, popular during the time of Herod. The paintings would have been comprised of square and rectangular panels of vibrant colors — red, black, white, yellow, and green, and surrounded by a margin mimicking the look of hewn drafted stone. Other elements include drawn architectural elements, such as pillars and capitals, and bordering motifs, such as waves, meanders and wreaths. Some panels were painted to mimic marble and alabaster slabs, serving as a much cheaper substitute to the imported stone.