Thera and the Aegean World


The First International Symposium
"The Wall Paintings of Thera"


     Clossing Addresses

     -Robert Laffineur

     -Peter M. Nomikos










The First International Symposium "The Wall-paintings of Thera"

TECHNICAL DIMENSION (Chairmen: M. Bietak, C. Doumas)

A generally accepted view is that the technique of wall painting was introduced to the Aegean from the east. Besides stylistic and thematic comparisons, modern technology enables us to examine the technical aspects in minute detail. A whole series of analyses of materials (plasters, pigments, glues) and techniques concerning the Theran wall paintings have been carried out in recent years and others are still in progress. This Session reviews the results of these analyses and compares them with relevant material from Egypt and the Levant.

  • AHMED EL GORESY, Polychromatic Wall Painting Decorations in Monuments of Pharaonic Egypt: Compositions, Chronology and Painting Techniques
  • EDNA R. RUSSMANN, The Egyptian Character of Certain Egyptian Painting Techniques
  • M. BIETAK, N. MARINATOS and C. PALYVOU, The Maze Tableau from Tell el Dab ̒a
  • RUDOLFINE SEEBER, The Technique of Plaster Preparation for the Minoan Wall Paintings at Tell el-Dab ̒a, Egypt - Preliminary Results
  • V. PERDIKATSIS, V. KILIKOGLOU, S. SOTIROPOULOU AND E. CHRYSSIKOPOULOU, Physicochemical Characterisation of Pigments from Theran Wall Paintings
  • E. CHRYSSIKOPOULOU, V. KILIKOGLOU, V. PERDIKATSIS, S. SOTIROPOULOU, K. BIRTACHA and M. ZACHARIOUDAKIS, Making Wall Paintings: An Attempt to Reproduce the Painting Techniques of Bronze Age Thera


The papers in this session deal with various visual aspects of the way the world is depicted in the Thera paintings in comparison with representations in other cultures.Issues of perspective,the use of space,ways of depicting humans and animals are dealt with along with questions of composition,colour,schematic versus naturalistic approaches,ways of treating movement,sequence and time and so forth.Consideration is also given to the way narratives and other verbal descriptions influence the visual representation. Stylistic and aesthetic questions are also treated in this session. However,the broad question of the overall choice of subject matter in the paintings,in comparison with subjects chosen for other grand cycles and programmes in other times and places,is dealt with in Session 5.


  • COLIN RENFREW, Locus iste: Modes of Representation and the Vision of Thera
  • KIKI BIRTACHA and MANOLIS ZACHARIOUDAKIS, Stereotypes in Theran Wall Paintings: Modules and Patterns in the Procedure of Painting
  • ELEANOR GURALNICK, Proportions of Painted Figures from Thera
  • M. SINCLAIR F. HOOD, Cretan Fresco Dates
  • MANFRED BIETAK, The Mode of Representation in Egyptian Art in Comparison to Aegean Bronze Age Art
  • REGINE SCHULZ, Remarks on the Composition of Hunting and Battle Scenes on the Chest of Tutankhamun
  • M.C. SHAW, Sea Voyages: The Fleet Fresco from Thera, and the Punt Reliefs from Egypt
  • DOMINIQUE COLLON, Syrian Glyptic and the Thera Wall Paintings
  • MARIO TORELLI, Santorini, Etruria and Archaic Rome: A Comparison of Mentality and Expression
  • SARAH P. MORRIS, From Thera to Scheria: Aegean Art and Narrative
  • STEFAN HILLER, Thera Ships, Egypt and Homer
  • MARION TRUE, The Role of Formal Decorative Patterns in the Wall Paintings of Thera
  • PHILIP P. BETANCOURT, The Concept of Space in Theran Compositional Systemics
  • PETER WARREN, From Naturalism to Essentialism in Theran and Minoan Art
  • General discussion


Many views have been expressed concerning the function of the wall paintings and their significance for Theran society. However, these paintings were directly associated with the buildings they decorated. This Session examines the connection between the function of the areas decorated with wall paintings and the themes represented, the way in which the artists made use of available space with respect to the themes, as well as the principles and conventions used in depicting architecture.

  • F. BLAKOLMER, The Functions of Wall Painting and Other Forms of Architectural Decoration in the Aegean Bronze Age
  • CLAIRY PALYVOU, Concepts of Space in Aegean Bronze Age Art and Architecture
  • TESSY SALI, The Miniature Frieze of Thera: The Transubstantiation of Religious Beliefs in Architectural Design
  • JOSEPH SHAW and MARJATTA LUTON, The Foreshore at Akrotiri
  • SARA IMMERWAHR, Thera and Knossos: Relation of the Paintings to their Architectural Space
  • BARRY KEMP and FRAN WEATHERHEAD, Palace Decoration at Tell el-Amarna
  • General discussion


ENVIRONMENTAL DIMENSION (Chairmen: P. Warren and P. Nomikos)

The Theran Weltanschauung, at least as it is depicted in the wall paintings, is deeply environmental. There are mountain landscapes, rocky terrain, rivers, reed thickets, coastlines and seas, a wealth of trees and flowering plants, animals, birds, insects, fish. An imagined environ-ment, with fantastic creatures and hybrid plants, is also portrayed. This Session therefore examines the relationship of depicted environ-ments to those of the real, physical world; it does this through questions of floral and faunal identification, habit and habitat. At the same time the environment depictions give a constant and strong impression that they had symbolic value and were intended to convey meaning. Discussion is therefore focused not only on the forms of depiction ("naturalistic" or otherwise), but also on their purposes and meanings.

  • NATASHA ANGELOPOULOU, Nature Scenes: An approach to a Sympolic Art
  • P.S. ECONOMIDIS, ‘The Little Fisherman’ and the Fish he holds
  • DIMITRA MYLONA, The ‘Fishermen’ Frescoes in the Light of the Fish Bone Evidence
  • MARIA P. B ELOYIANNI, Baskets in the Fresco of the ‘Saffron Gatherers’ at Akrotiri, Thera: Relevance to the Present
  • OHN G. COUTSIS, The Insects Depicted on the Wall Paintings of Thera: An Attempt at Identification
  • EVA PANAGIOTAKOPULU, Butterflies, Flowers and Aegean Iconography: A Story about Silk and Cotton
  • MOSHE NEGBI and ORA NEGBI, Domestication of Ornamental and Aromatic Plants in the Aegean: The Case of the Madonna Lily
  • RAY PORTER, The Flora of the Theran Wall Paintings: Living Plants and Motifs Ð Sea Lily, Crocus, Iris and Ivy
  • ANDREAS VLACHOPOULOS, The Reed Motif in the Thera Wall Paintings and its Association with Aegean Pictorial Art
  • A. SARPAKI, Plants Chosen to Be Depicted on Theran Wall Paintings: Tentative Interpretations
  • KENNETH J. HARTE, Birds of the Thera Wall Paintings
  • DAGMAR KLEINSGÜTL, Some Remarks of the Felids of Thera
  • K. TRANTALIDOU, Animals Bones and Animal Representations at Late Bronze Age Akrotiri
  • General Discussion

SOCIAL DIMENSION (Chairman: M. Bietak and R. Laffineur)

The Session on Social Dimension addresses questions such as the choice of themes and motifs of Theran painting in relation to those of other Aegean and east Mediterranean painting, the place of Theran painting in the history of painting generally, the possibility of attribution to individual artists or workshops, the connections between Theran painting and other arts and crafts, the position and social function of the individual as illustrated in the paintings, the social function of the paintings and their economic, tech-nological and historical background.

  • IRENE J. WINTER, Thera Paintings and the Ancient Near East: The Private and Public Domains of Wall Decoration
  • BARBARA and WOLF-DIETRICH NIEMEIR, Aegean Frescoes in Syria-Palestine: Alalakh and Tel Kabri
  • SHELLEY WACHSMANN, Some Notes on Mediterranean Seafaring During the Second Millenium BC
  • IMMA KILIAN-DIRLMEIER, Thera and Warfare
  • CHRISTINA A. TELEVANTOU, Aegean Bronze Age Wall Painting: The Theran Workshop
  • CHRISTOS BOULOTIS, Travelling Fresco Painters in the Aegean Late Bronze Age: The Diffusion Patterns of a Prestigious Art
  • ELLEN N. DAVIS, The Organisation of the Theran Artists
  • MARISA MARTHARI, The Attraction of the Pictorial: Observations of the Relationship of Theran Pottery and Theran Fresco Iconography
  • ROBERT LAFFINEUR, Dress, Hairstyle and Jewellery in the Thera Wall Paintings
  • N. MARINATOS, Nature as Ideology: Landscepes on the Theran Ships
  • General Discussion


Widely differing views have been published about the extent, if any, to which the paintings represent or are concerned with conceptions of the divine, with religious belief, or with ritual practice. In endeavouring to clarify and advance understanding in this area, the Session on Religious or Symbolic Dimensions aims to identify the relevant images and to propose some definitions of their purposes.

  • LYVIA MORGAN, Form and Meaning in Figurative Painting
  • GERALNDINE C. GESELL, Blood on the Horns of Consecration?
  • IRINI PAPAGEORGIOU, On the Rites de Passage in Late Cycladic Akrotiri, Thera: A Reconsideration of the Frescoes of the 'Priestess' and the 'Fishermen' of the West House
  • CHRISTOS DOUMAS, Age and Gender in the Theran Wall Paintings
  • General Discussion



Robert Laffineur
Peter M. Nomikos