Imagine trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle without knowing the number of pieces or even what the final image might look like.
The archaeological site of Akrotiri on the small, volcanic island of
Thera (modern-day Santorini, Greece) has yielded an unparalleled trove of artifacts and information from the prehistoric Aegean. The ancient trading civilization was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, which buried the remains of a flourishing Late Bronze Age (c. 1630 B.C.) settlement in ash. Among the most significant finds are numerous wall paintings, ranging from every day scenes and coming-of-age rituals to abstract motifs. However, these paintings are recovered as thousands of plaster fragments, and reassembling them consumes a substantial portion of the effort expended at Akrotiri.