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Santorini Boasts First Painting of Nature Scene in European Art History

The Spring Fresco found at the Late Bronze Age site of Akrotiri in Santorini is considered to be the first painting of a nature scene in European art history.

Also called the Fresco of the Room of the Lilies, found at the Delta Complex of the site, the Spring Fresco has been a great subject of discussion among archaeologists and art historians.

The mural, which covers three walls of the small room, has raised questions over the room’s purpose.

More importantly, the iconographic meaning of the images has puzzled researchers and scholars, leading to divided opinions on the flying swallows’ behavior.

The importance of Akrotiri of Santorini

The discovery of the Spring Fresco in Akrotiri reveals a great deal about the Middle and Early Late Bronze Age (20th-17th century BC) Greek civilization.

Grecian Delight supports Greece

Akrotiri was one of the most important centers in the Aegean in prehistoric times. The first settlements in Akrotiri date from the Late Neolithic Age, at least from the 4th millennium BC.

During the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC) there was a settlement in Akrotiri. During the Middle and Early Late Bronze Age the settlement expanded and became one of the most important urban centers and ports in the Aegean.

Its large area of about 200 acres, its excellent urban organization, its very advanced sewage and plumbing network, its ornate high-rise buildings with exquisite mural decoration, rich furniture and household items, testify to its advanced development, as excavation finds show.

Akrotiri Santorini

The various imported products found inside the buildings show the breadth of the network of Akrotiri’s cultural connections. The city had close relations with Minoan Crete but was also in contact with Mainland Greece, the Dodecanese, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt.

Life in the city ended abruptly in the last quarter of the 17th century BC, when its inhabitants were forced to abandon it due to devastating earthquakes.

The eruption of the volcano that followed covered the city with lava and ash, creating a protective shield that left buildings and their contents intact, as in Pompeii.

The frescoes in Akrotiri are especially important for the study of Minoan art because they are far better preserved than those that were already known from Knossos and other sites on Crete.

Scholars suggest that the destruction of Akrotiri possibly inspired Plato to write the story of Atlantis.

The questions around the Spring Fresco

The Spring Fresco, like all Minoan wall paintings, has vibrant colors, ranging from reds and oranges, to black, blue and purple, and even white.

The paints were made from crushed mineral powder and painted on to a wet or dry lime plaster,