Update on the MSCA project, "The Painted Tetrarchic Reliefs of Nicomedia"

 In 2019, Dr. Tuna Şare Ağtürk, an associate professor of classical art and archaeology at Çanakkale 18 Mart University, was awarded a European Commission’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship at Oxford University to prepare the first major publication of a series of painted marble frieze panels from an imperial complex recently found in Nicomedia (Izmit-Turkey), administrative capital of the Eastern Roman Empire during the Tetrarchy.

 The sixty-six relief panels of the Nicomedia frieze represent an astonishing combination of imperial, mythological, and agonistic scenes. The excellent preservation of colour on the frieze is unprecedented in the corpus of Roman state relief sculpture. As the only extant imperial monument which preserves extensive applied polychromy, the frieze offers new, key insights into many technical aspects of sculptural polychromy, such as the application of colour and visibility, and the painter’s role in sculpture. Furthermore, an iconographical approach to the polychromy of the Nicomedia reliefs helps in the understanding of aspects of increasingly prevalent colour-coding in the imperial art of the later third century. The initial polychromy investigation of the reliefs, which included multispectral and microscopic imaging and pXRF analysis, has been conducted in a TÜBİTAK-supported collaborative investigation by Şare Ağtürk and Dr. Mark Abbe of University of Georgia.

Şare Ağtürk’s book ‘The Painted Tetrarchic Reliefs of Nicomedia’ will be published by Brepols later in 2021.


To follow the project and learn more about the team, the institutions involved, and the related publications see:



Added: 29/04/2021

Image © Çukurbağ Archaeological Project, Kocaeli Archaeology Museum.

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