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Palimpsest of Butrint: Fire

by Fleur Cowgill :: You need to be a member to contact artists →Join :: Portfolio

Civilisation after civilisation, including the Golden Age of Greece, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Venetians came and conquered overwriting their history in the fabric of the site. For some Butrint was an important religious site, for others a valuable port and trading crossroads.

At the same time this significant cultural centre suffered earthquake, fire and the innumerable vicissitudes of ancient and medieval life. However towards the end of the middle ages the seaward approaches started to silt up and become marshy. The city dwindled, died and became deserted.

But with each civilisation, with each disaster, Butrint re-invented itself layer-by-layer. Like sheets of parchment or vellum that were cleaned off and re-used, the site is the classic example of a ‘palimpsest’ – a documentation in stone and artefacts, layered one upon the other to give a deep perspective of culture and personality.

Using oils, inks, pastels and wax, the canvas has been built up with thin layers and repeated short vertical strokes, before flooding with thin glaze and scraping back to reveal under layers of colour and light.

  Palimpsest of Butrint: Fire


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