The name “Agios Athanasios” may not say much, except to those who visited the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, where it occupies a very privileged room of its own – and rightfully so!
As customary, the front of the tomb was entirely painted with golden winged griffons in the pediment trimmed by alternating dark blue triglyphs and white metopes. Underneath runs the frieze that depicts a symposium, a meeting for men only. This is a rare colored version of the feast where we see the participants comfortably stretched on their couches enjoying their food and wine, while young women play the guitar and the flute. Further down the frieze is a cortege of young men on foot and on horseback making their way to the event while they are being watched by Macedonian soldiers leaning on their spears and shields. The doorway is guarded by two grieving young men wearing a chlamys. Such a richly decorated tomb supposedly belonged to a renowned Macedonian military, more so since remains of his armor were found inside the nearly destroyed burial chamber.
The Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki has put these friezes in the limelight, reworking the panels digitally in order to make them available for everyone on a touch-screen. Using the sliding frame of the reference bar underneath, selections of this fresco can be studied in detail. There is also a large looking-glass that enables the curious visitor to magnify every single corner of the painting. Another program allows the visitor to touch specific personages or details which reverse to their original condition as the scenes were before their wear and tear over time got a hold – they look as colorful as on the day they were painted.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technique we are able to see in detail how the guests behaved, how they were catered with food and wine, and what they wore for such a symposium; that also applies to the military equipment of the infantry standing around.