Glamorous Kore of Thera takes center stage

The Kore of Thera, one of the finest and largest Archaic Greek female sculptures ever found, is going on public display for the first time since she was discovered 22 years ago. She makes her debut September 4th at the Archaeological Museum of Thera in Santorini after more than two decades in archaeological storage.

Archaeologists found her in November of 2000. She was under just 28 inches under the soil of ancient Thera’s necropolis in the mountain pass of Sellada in southeastern Santorini. She was in supine position next to the road that ran through the cemetery to the city in the southern part of the cemetery. The statue is larger than life-sized at 7’6″ and weighs 1653 pounds. It was carved out of prized white marble of Naxos in the Daedalic sculptural style and bears its distinctive features, including her wig-like hair and her long Doric chiton worn with a wide belt.

The Kore of Thera is one of very few female statues of this size from the 7th century B.C. known to exist and she is remarkably intact. Only the tip of the nose and the bent arm of the right hand (which is still present, carved into the chest of the kore) are missing. Even the inset peg at the base is present. The details in her hair — the headband decorated with a swirl pattern on her forehead then tied behind the back of her head with a tidy square knot, the combed locks in the front, the plaits in the back — are pristine, as is the pleating and pattern of the chiton. Other korai have been found at the cemetery, but they are in pieces and heavily worn.

Funding and adequate museum space woes have kept this masterpiece from public view until now. There was talk in 2015 of exhibiting the kore in the atrium of the Archaeological Museum of Thera, but the plan did not come to fruition, so alas she languished for another seven years. She will become the centerpiece of the newly refurbished museum when it reopens next year.