Frescoes from Thera

Your names here: Ben Richards, Hattie Sherman, and Emma Richardson






      In the recent excavations of Akrotiri, ancient Thera, there have been many frescoes discovered. Akrotiri is in the Cyclades' chain of islands, located south- east of mainland Greece. A Fresco is made by applying paint to wet plaster, forming a permanent painting. Frescoes were used to decorate walls of buildings. They were usually very large and sometimes covered a whole wall. Frescoes were usually found in houses of people in the upper class. The frescoes were used to tell stories or to depict daily life. The finding of these paintings in Akrotiri helped archaeologists learn about the life and culture of the Therans. These frescoes were found in such great condition due to the explosion of the volcano on the island of Santorini, which preserved the paintings under a layer of ash.






     The Young fisherman with his catch is one of the frescoes found in Akrotiri. It was painted in 1650 BC. Archaeologists  recovered this fresco in the Cyclades on the volcanic island of Santorini. This well preserved painting shows a nude male fisherman holding his abundant catch in his hands. This nude male figure is an early monumental study because it is a subject attempted by later Greek artists for centuries. This painting shows historians that the people of Thera were depended on the sea. They used the sea for food and for trading. The sea was a critical part of the Theran's society.

         [Young fisherman with his catch, detail of a fresco in Room 5, West House, Akrotiri, Thera, c. 1650 B.C. Approx. 53" high. National Archeological Museum, Athens.]






                     This fresco depicts a young girl gathering saffron. Saffron had many uses back then, including dye or paint, spice, and medicine. This piece of art is important because it taught people a lot about their life back then. For example, it shows what a young girl would wear in those times, what she looked like, what they did. Her head is shaved, showing that she in unmarried. The painting is also very naturalistic, depicting the plant itself at least 4 times and the girl is literally in the act of gathering the saffron.

           [Young Girl Gathering Saffron Crocus Flowers, detail of wall painting, Room 3 of House Xeste, Akrotiri, Thera. Second Palace period, c. 1700-1450 BCE. Thera Foundation, Petros M. Nomikos, Greece.]







          This fresco shows a scene of the Minoan harber of ships and the sea. The ships are all merchant or recreational, showing the a much more peaceful Minoan culture than the Athens enslaving kingdom the Greek mythology thought the Minoans of. The evidence of a peaceful kingdom can be seen by the lack of soldiers or any military naval ships.

 [Flotilla, detail of Miniature Ships Fresco, from Room 5, West House, Thera, c. 1650 B.C. Approx. 17" high. National Archeological Museum, Athens.]







Stokstad, Marilyn. Art: A Brief History. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007.



Tansey, Richard G, and Fred S Kleiner. Gardner’s Art Through The Ages. New York: Ted Buchholz, 1996.


Notes on Mr. Pomeroy's lecture on The Girl Gathering Saffron (November 17, 2008)