Fira/Chora: northern sector & Old Archaeological Museum
A short climb from the centre, following the main pedestrian street, brings you to the (Old) Archaeological Museum (open daily 8.30–3, except Mon), close to the cable car terminal. Although there are some prehistoric finds on show, the collection principally exhibits objects of the historic periods from around the island.
The entrance area displays those prehistoric finds from Akrotiri which were made between 1899 and 1908, with their characteristic clear and open, decorative designs: a fine Middle Cycladic pithos with lily-design stands opposite the entrance, beside two others with abstract designs. By comparison with them, the designs on the objects from the Late Geometric period, and 8th and 7th centuries bc, in the first main gallery (to the left), are tight and methodical, lacking the spontaneity and fluidity of their Bronze Age predecessors: it is instructive to see the two epochs juxtaposed here. The many examples of slip-painted, large burial amphora exhibited along the walls of the gallery, which were produced locally on the island, are decorated with particularly fine geometric designs nonetheless.One exceptional pithos (at the left end), dating from c. 675 bc and of typical Cycladic design, has an embossed, relief decoration, depicting (on the neck of the vase) a swan preening its tail-feathers, and below, winged horses drawing chariots. The centrepiece of the collection of artefacts which come from the cemeteries of Ancient Thera (see p. 55), is the clay figurine of a mourning woman– of Daedalic style (no. 392, in a case on its own, immediately on the left on entering), dating from the late 7th century bc. It has survived intact, with the colours and features excellently preserved: it is decorated only on the front face. The gesture of the hands raised to the head expresses lamentation. The several fragmentary and eroded kouroi in the room, which have often vigorous modelling of the hair, show how in the 7th century bc artistic creativity was at its most powerful in the plastic arts of carving and modelling. These kouroi would have stood, larger than life, as grave-markers.
In the second gallery (to the right), the central case dis plays some very fine, late 6th-century bc, ceramic-ware imported from Attica: a black-figure kylix, exquisitely decorated with ships around the rim, and mythical and battle scenes, designed with a perfect overall balance of intricate figures and empty space. The piece is inscribed with the name of its owner on the outer rim. next to it a vase unusually depicts horses, both in profile, and viewed front-on. The last case displays votive and funerary offerings, including many zoomorphic vases and perfume-jars in the forms of dolphins, ducks and doves. The collection concludes with a number of marble Hellenistic busts and heads from the public spaces of Ancient Thera.
Santorini Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.