Sad news today: the fresco conservation laboratory, housed within the archaeological site at Akrotiri, Thera (Santorini) since 1967, has been closed due to lack of financial means that would keep it open and operating.

The fresco conservation lab at Akrotiri, Thera (Santorini)

The Archaeology News Network reports this sad fact, and adds that according to Professor Christos Doumas, the excavation project’s director, the fresco fragments are now under constant danger to be transformed into 'nests for mice'. Frescoes as a group consist some of the dig’s most important finds which make the excavation unique in the world, being the subject for a hundred-title-long bibliography in many languages. Doumas explains:

"These frescoes are in fragmentary condition. However, our conservators have managed to gather these fragments and to gradually join them together, so that today we are in position to see large murals dating back in 1600 BC."
The frescoes lab was set up by leading conservators such as Tassos Margaritof and Stavros Baltoyannis and became the 'cradle' for three generations of high profile conservators. Until last years, the lab was operated through funds from private donors, and until three or four years ago, the Ministry of Culture awarded the Archaeological Society in Athens funds to finance this dig. Now, they have stopped sending money. The five to six thousand dollars that made up the monthly budget is no longer being raised.

Employees of the fresco conservation laboratory are already finding new positions to fill in Greece and abroad, but the closer is a hard blow for Doumas, for whom the laboratory constituted his life's work.

"The dig is failed by a government whose both the President and its Vice-president have served as Ministers of Culture.”