Mount Athos has the largest collection of Christian art in the world. As described in the history hook, almost all buildings were constructed thanks to the ministrations of the Byzantine Emperors. The same attention was paid by them in order to endow the monasteries and their foundations with works of art which can only be described as masterpieces.
Every monastery possesses a large variety of works of art such as portable icons, mural paintings, miniatures, manuscript codices etc. These Web pages are limited in scope to manuscript codices, mural paintings and portable icons, that is to say pictorial art. Before one proceeds further he should be aware of the following necessary information. Up to now there has not been a systematic record or even an investigation on the whole of the paintings and icons in the Holy Mountain. However, such an investigation has been already initiated. As soon as this effort is completed, we will be able to speak with more certainty about the schools of painting and the chronological order they follow in Mt. Athos.
An important feature, mainly present in the portable icons but also in wall paintings, is the existance of overpainting. This fact requires a detailed examination of the paintings before any restoration work is attempted.
Three years ago, a new monastic brotherhood of Thessaloniki came to man the abandoned skete of St. Andrew, 500 metres away from Karyes, where the biggest church of Mt. Athos is found. They are restorers and deal systematically with the examination of works of art. At present they work with photographic methods, infrared and ultraviolet photography, as well as use of x-rays. It is hoped that in the future, with the help of the international scientific community, they will introduce to their laboratories methods of advanced technology. It is hoped that the results of their work will be a considerable contribution to the work already performed by the Greek Archaeological Service. Part of that work will be the development of an electronic database of Mt. Athos Art, which could be of assistance to all future restoration work. Already, the Skete is in cooperation with the Computer Vision and Image Processing Group, Department of Informatics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki on the subject of digital processing and analysis of pictorial art. This group has extensive experience in digital image processing and analysis and numerous books and publications in this area.
At present, specialists from all over the world have the oppurtunity, after a previous communication with the fathers of the Skete, to stay there free of charge and exercise their skills on the conservation of byzantine icons.