Santorini Map Images

THE ARTS

The earliest art form found in Ancient Thera is pottery from the Geometric period. Thanks to the burial customs just described, many works of pottery have survived in reasonably good condition. Theran ceramics of that period and later, in the orientalising style, were influenced by neighbouring Naxos.

Nevertheless, the pottery from this time is perhaps the only work that can be attributed to Theran craftsmen. This is be-cause from the 6th century BC and afterwards, the development of ceramics in other regions (Attica, Rhodes, Corinth, Ionia) and the location of Thera at a crossroads on the trade routes made it easy for the island to accept the wares of potters of other regions., and so local production stagnated.

Some Middle Geometric vessels (drinking cups with two horizontal handles) have survived. Among examples of Late Geometric work are jugs and amphorae used as funerary urns. The amphorae had to be rather large, because they held the offerings that accompanied the dead as well as the ashes. Such amphorae were the most characteristic items made by Theran potters.

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Apart from ceramics, examples of the plastic arts (sculptures) have also been found in Thera. Although it developed after pottery, perhaps because of the absence of the raw materials needed, such as marble, Thera has given us some of the most monumental works of Archaic sculpture that we know.

The two kouroi (statues of youths) dating from the second half of the 7th century BC, now in the Lira Archaeological Museum, and the kouros in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, a work of the early 6th centuiy BC known as the Apollo of Thera, are certainly among the best of I heir kind. All three must have originally stood over tombs in the ancient cemetery at Sellada. The i wo first must have been about 2 metres in height .ind were made of thick-grained island marble.

During the Byzantine era and later, under Frankish occupation, the coasts of the Aegean suffered from incessant pirate raids. To protect themselves from this menace, islanders in particular built their settlements in inaccessible spots, or moved them there, and fortified them for even greater security. They also constructed watchtowers in high places, a kind of distant early warning system. In the Santorini of the 17th century, as we learn from the journals of the foreign travellers of the day, there were five such fortified settlements, the so-called castelia.

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