Countless unearthed ancient statues provide evidence that the Greek civilization valued beauty and perfection. The astonishing achievements of ancient Greek artists are reflected in sculptures our modern world admires with awe.
The Daughter of Thera is currently on display for the first time. Credit: Greek Culture Ministry
The Boxer at Rest is a rare sculpture and masterpiece of Hellenistic Bronze Age art, but far from the only beautiful ancient artwork produced by people who paid attention to details with incredible accuracy.
Another incredible ancient statue worthy of admiration is known as the Daughter of Thera. The ‘supernatural’ sized statue is a masterpiece of Greek antiquity. It is now being revealed to the public for the first time!
The rare 7th-century Greek century B.C. sculpture was unexpectedly discovered during rescue excavations in the cemetery of the ancient city of Thira, in southeastern Greece, by the Theraean archaeologist Charalambos Sigalas. The archaic pupil of white Naxos marble, 2.48m high with the inset peg at its base, is almost intact.
The 2,700-year-old statue from which only the tip of the nose and the arm of the bent right hand resting on the chest are missing, is one of the few surviving works of the large, prominent early Greek sculpture in stone, which it is expressed with the statuesque types of the kouros and the daughter, these archetypal expressions of the beauty of the time.
The almost intact female statue wearing a long Doric veil uniquely complements our knowledge of the daughter type in the second half of the 7th-century B.C. Its perfect preservation highlights its stylistic features and its unique artistic value.
Archaeologists have previously found ancient statues of daughters and maidens produced according to the Naxian tradition. These ancient artifacts were, unfortunately, in poor shape. Still, preservation further highlights the economic prosperity and the desire to promote the Theraean aristocracy of the time, as well as the aesthetic preferences and the close contact with the artistic process.
Excavation of the wider area where the statue was found to locate its base or connect it to a specific burial yielded no additional relevant evidence. However, the excavator’s interpretation of the statue as a funerary sculpture is considered safe as, among other things, it was placed in a supine position in an area of archaic burials, next to the ancient stone-paved road that crossed the cemetery leading to the ancient city.
After remaining in warehouses for 22 years, the magnificent Daughter of Thera is ready to be admired by the public. The Ephorate of the Cyclades exhibited the statue for the first time to the public in a periodic exhibition, which opened on September 4, 2022, the Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni, the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports announced.
Speaking during the event, Thera Mayor Antonis Sigalas said the Municipality of Thera had entered an agreement with the culture ministry to preserve and showcase ancient finds in the restored museums. Among others, they had also agreed to display wall paintings found in Akrotiri.
“In July 2020, we came here with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who promised that next year the frescoes would be exhibited at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, which were also “imprisoned” in the warehouses. We did what we said. Last year the murals of Akrotiri were rendered. We said then that the archaeological museum, which had to follow modern museum standards, would be completely renovated. We have found the undivided support of the mayor and the Municipality, which, through a Programming Agreement, finances the project of restoring the museum. According to the planning we did in 2020, Santorini in 2023 will have both of its museums restored.
Together with Akrotiri and a series of other interventions carried out on the island by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades, Santorini is now registered as a very strong cultural destination of the Mediterranean”, President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou said at the opening of the exhibition.
With the temporary exhibition of the statue, both Santorinians and visitors to the island will have the opportunity to admire this early masterpiece of ancient Greek art.