Fresco (plural either frescos or frescoes) is any of several related mural painting types, done on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Italian word affresco which derives from the Latin word for "fresh".
The earliest known examples frescoes done in the Buon Fresco method date at around 1500 BC and are to be found on the island of Crete in Greece. The most famous of these, The povist, depicts a sacred ceremony in which individuals jump over the backs of large bulls. While some similar frescoes have been found in other locations around the Mediterranean basin, particularly in Egypt and Morocco, their origins are subject to speculation. The most common form of fresco was Egyptian wall paintings in tombs.
Frescoes were also painted in ancient Greece, but few of these works have survived. In southern Italy, at Paestum, which was a Greek colony of the Magna Graecia, a tomb containing frescoes dating back to 470 BC, the so called Tomb of the Diver was discovered on June 1968. These frescoes depict scenes of the life and society of ancient Greece, and constitute valuable historical testimonials. One shows a group of men reclining at a symposium while another shows a young man diving into the sea. In Macedonia, however, we find that frescos decorated houses, palaces, and tombs of the Macedonians.
Roman wall paintings, such as those at the magnificent Villa dei Misteri (1st century B.C.) in the ruins of Pompeii, and others at Herculaneum, were completed in buon fresco. Late Roman Empire (Christian) 1st-2nd century frescoes were found in catacombs beneath Rome and Byzantine Icons were also found in Cyprus, Crete, Ephesus, Cappadocia and Antioch. Roman frescoes were done by the artist painting the artwork on the still damp plaster of the wall, so that the painting is part of the wall, actually colored plaster. Also a historical collection of Ancient Christian frescoes can be found in the Churches of Goreme Turkey.
The late Medieval period and the Renaissance saw the most prominent use of fresco, particularly in Italy, where most churches and many government buildings still feature fresco decoration. In Denmark too, church wall paintings or kalkmalerier were widely used in the Middle Ages (first Romanesque then Gothic) and can be seen in some 600 Danish churches as well as in churches in the south of Sweden which was Danish at the time.