Wednesday, September 6: The Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira, Santorini displays amazing finds that were excavated from Ancient Akrotiri, the Minoan outpost that was buried during the volcanic eruption of 1650 B.C. To date, only 5% of this area has been excavated. The museum houses stunning frescoes, ceramics and a gold ibex figurine, about 10 cm in length and dating from the 17th century B.C.
There is a model of the plan and architecture of the city and its organization as an urban center.
A wall painting of blue monkeys depicts the Theran landscape in shape and colors. The blue monkeys, foreign to the Aegean, clamber on the rocks, moving freely in all directions. All are depicted in profile except one, which is shown in frontal view, a bold rendering in Aegean wall paintings. (Information from a placard at the Museum.)
The wall painting of the monkeys, a masterpiece by an avant-garde painter, combines a certain restraint in color and drawing of the natural landscape with freedom of composition, intense movement, varied poses and a registering of the momentary, thus creating an atmosphere that realistically conveys the monkeys’ character. This indicates the painter must have had a direct image of the animals, which would have been imported to the Aegean from the Eastern Mediterranean.
The other impressive find is the gold ibex. It was discovered in 1999 in mint condition inside a wooden box, inside a clay chest, next to large piles of pairs of horns, mainly of goats. It is still too early to draw conclusions about the figure’s significance. It is one of the few items of wealth left by the Minoans in their flight from the volcanic eruption; most everything found so far are household items that the Minoans would have abandoned because they didn’t have much value.
Below is a gallery of some other impressive and beautiful household items excavated from Ancient Akrotiri. The collection includes fossils of plants that flourished before the human habitation of Thera; Neolithic pottery; Early Cycladic marble figurines, pottery, and metal artifacts; Middle Cycladic pottery including bird jugs decorated with swallows; plaster casts of furniture, household equipment, bronze vessels, tools and weapons; and magnificent wall painting ensembles or fragments. There are also numerous clay vases.
Click on any of the images to see a full-sized slide show.