Celebrating Greek Culture at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira

Greece is a country full of diverse cultures and interests. Visitors to the country have plenty to see and experience, from the food and language to religion and archaeological sites. The Greek people are proud of their country and go to great lengths to highlight the aspects that define their nation. It’s against this backdrop that the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation has worked to preserve and promote the country’s cultural heritage. Through funding programmes directed at culture, the Foundation has helped Greek citizens enjoy history through The Museums Cycle publishing programme.

The Museums Cycle is a volume published yearly that documents an archaeological museum, capturing the aesthetics qualities and scientific validity of a particular institution. In doing so, this programme has helped contribute to the body of knowledge regarding Greek culture. While these yearly volumes are not sold, they are made available without charge to public institutions such as libraries and universities.

In December 2016, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation – named after the father of Greek businessman Spiro Latsis – unveiled a volume on Prehistoric Thira, which is based on archaeologist Christos Doumas’ work at the Akrotiri excavation site. The launch was attended by members of the Greek archaeological community and representatives from the ‘Culture & Sports’ and ‘Education, Research and Religious Affairs’ ministries.

More specifically, the volume provides insights into the Akrotiri archaeological site, whose many findings can be found at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira. More importantly, the book displays for the first-time murals restored from private homes and public buildings in the Akrotiri settlement, artistic works that were not previously made public at the museum. Exquisite paintings, such as a 4-metre long mural that once belonged to a private home and a painting depicting a traditional initiation rite, are part of the works featured.

Mrs Marianna Latsis, daughter to the late John S. Latsis, had the honour of writing the preface to the 2016 volume. In her remarks, she commended the work done by the Museum of Prehistoric Thira in preserving an invaluable piece of Greek history, while also acknowledging the role the book played in bringing to light knowledge and artistry that had been hidden in the excavation site. Distinguished guests allowed to speak at the unveiling of the book also spoke glowingly about its unique place among other Museums Cycle volumes, noting it conveyed aspects of Aegean history brilliantly.

The author of the 2016 publication, Christos Doumas, was quick to thank the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation for its desire to shed more light on the ancient Akrotiri site. He noted that the release of the publication coincided with the  50th anniversary in 2017 of the site’s excavation work, much of which has been put on display at the Museum of Prehistoric Thira. The publication made it possible to trace the history and get a picture of progress on the site.

Prehistoric Thira

Located on the island of Santorini, the Museum of Prehistoric Thira was built on the site on an old church that was destroyed by an earthquake. Early excavation on the location started as far back as 1867 when a French geologist acted on the findings of local people at a nearby quarry. Other archaeologists have been interested in the site, but the main excavation work has been directed by the Archaeological Society of Athens.

Much of the Museum’s displays focus on ancient Akrotiri, going as far back as 3300 B.C. Artefacts from this early period are presented chronologically, and includes jewelry, paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. Early Cycladic pottery is a highlight among historians, as are objects from the Late Cycladic periods (a time in Greek history that featured the use of pure white marbles, and later, bronze). The site has attracted visitors during its excavation period, thanks to the rare artefacts that can be found there.S.Latsis-Misc.Prehistoric

Supporting Greek Culture

The Latsis Group has supported archaeological museums across the country with the help of the Eurobank Banking Group since 1997. The Foundation has seen it necessary to extend its public benefit initiatives to preserving Greek culture through financial support and development initiatives such as the Museums Cycle publications.

Founded in 2005 to continue the philanthropic legacy of John S. Latsis, the Foundation has collaborated with various partners to help the advancement of initiatives in a broad range of sectors, including health, social welfare, the environment, science and education. From providing research grants and academic scholarships to leading the fight against food insecurity and the promotion of children’s rights, the Foundation has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Greek citizens. The Foundation believes in highlighting the country’s cultural wealth as much as it can, and has implemented a framework for identifying charitable projects to support.