|Lale Tepe: Tomb Chamber|
|Landscape of Sardis|
|Computer Model of the Painted Late Archaic Tomb Chamber at Lale Tepe|
In 1999 the Sardis Expedition documented a tumulus tomb known as Lale Tepe on behalf of the Ethnographical and Archaeological Museum in Manisa, Turkey. This computer drawing reconstructs its architecture and painted decoration, based on well-preserved traces of pigments and hundreds of fragments from three marble burial couches (klinai) recovered from the chamber.
The tomb chamber, a rectangular space built of limestone masonry with a steeply pitched ceiling, contains seven places for burial--four on couches, and three in floor hollows. The interior is elaborately painted in red, green, deep blue, and black. Three prominent palm trees face the tomb entrance under the double couch. The tomb's decorative features and construction methods suggest a date in the late sixth or fifth century B.C., when Sardis was a satrapal capital of the Persian empire.
Each end of the double couch at the back of the chamber has a carved and painted volute resembling an Aeolic capital above a knob flanked by palmettes. A painted frieze of palmettes and lotus flowers, terminating with a rosette and a sphinx, dominates the flat horizontal length; the central motif cannot be identified. A vine and a zigzag pattern run the length of the mattress; similar couches are depicted on Greek vases. The left end was trimmed in antiquity, apparently to correct an error in the overall length.
The chamber's ceiling and gable end walls seem to depict the structure of a house roof. The bands on the ceiling probably represent wooden roof beams, while the zigzag pattern may be a schematic allusion to reed matting or thatch roofing. The use of architectural elements such as these can be found in Phrygian and Lycian rock-cut tomb chambers and on rock-cut facades of Phrygian religious monuments.
For more information about this digital model of the inside of Lale Tepe tumulus tomb, visit the Infinite Points Computer Mapping segment of this program.
Computer Model of the Painted Late Archaic Tomb Chamber at Lale Tepe: Philip T. Stinson, 1999-2003. Digital images and computer model. Archaeological Exploration of Sardis, T-83