In the village of Akrotiri, on the south part of the island, lies a massive archaeological site that is considered a very important geological discovery. Let’s dig through its history!
The prehistoric site of Akrotiri became known worldwide due to the excavations that were conducted under the supervision of the eminent Greek archeologist Spyridon Marinatos in 1967, which were continued by archaeologist Christos Doumas in 1974. However, excavations had already started in 1870 by the French geologist F. Fouque.
After research from archeologists, evidence of human habitation at the historic site of Akrotiri, dates back to the Neolithic Age (4500 BC), when the village started to grow from a small fishing and farming village that it was, to become very important in the trading business in the Aegean. Its strategic position between Cyprus and Minoan Crete made it a very significant point in the trade of copper, which helped in the development of its community. As indicated by the pottery that was discovered, the residents of Akrotiri had trading relations with Crete, the Dodecanese, Greece’s mainland, Cyprus and probably Egypt and Syria. This trading activity led the civilization to its growth, enhanced the city’s prosperity and led the inhabitants to a flourishing way of life.
Important factors for this growth, were agriculture, animal husbandry, fishery and shipping. The residents’ occupations as engineers, architects, town planners, builders and even artists also become clear from the excavations. Their crops included wheat, barley, legumes, olives and vineyards and they exported wine, metals and volcanic rocks. The residents were also occupied with beekeeping and, especially women, with weaving and saffron collection.
Their high standard of living allowed the inhabitants to express their artistic skills and talents. Archaeologists have found a variety of vessels made by locals, in all sizes, shapes and colors, for both domestic and aesthetic use.
Also, large murals were found that show their influence by the Minoans and constitute a valuable source of information about the way of life back then. They were found in large and small walls, doors and windows and they depict nature, religion and everyday life.
This prosperous society of Akrotiri had an unfortunate end around 1613 BC, as one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions and a major earthquake occurred and buried the town under volcanic ash. This helped in the preservation of the remains of the settlement. The eruption was so strong that changed the morphology of the island of Santorini and connected it with the myth of Lost Atlantis, something that has not been proved scientifically though. Fortunately, human remains have not been found, as the habitants were forced to leave after a series of strong earthquakes.
How can someone visit the archaeological site of Aktotiri?
Today, visitors can wander around the remains of the city, observe the narrow stone-paved streets and admire the ruins of the big squares, the houses that were made of mud and stones and the basements that were used as storages and workshops, while some of the significant objects that were found are exhibited at the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in Fira. Some famous wall paintings can also be admired in the National Archaeological Museum, in Athens.
The Prehistoric site of Akrotiri is easily accessible by car or public transportation and it is a 20-minute drive from Fira. If you decide to visit the site by car, there is a parking place available and the famous Red Beach in a short distance, totally worth visiting. Public transportation from Fira is also regular and you can get an updated bus schedule from the main bus station located in Fira.
An alternative way of visiting this impressive settlement is by the many bus tours that are available on the island. You can choose among guided tours and tours that include visiting all the beautiful and most-known parts of Santorini island while traveling around in the comfort of having everything organized for you.
Visit the Prehistoric site of Akrotiri and feel its unique majestic atmosphere while transferring yourself into the distant past!