Ancient Akrotiri:The Pompeii of the Aegean In Santorini
Akrotiri Excavations have uncovered one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean. The first habitation at the site dates back to the Late Neolithic times (at least the 4th millennium BC). Akrotiri is often characterised as the prehistoric Pompeii of the Aegean.
The excavations in Akrotiri started in 1967 led by Professor Spyridon Marinatos. He aimed to prove that the destruction of the Minoan Civilization was caused by the eruption of the volcano in Santorini.
The excavations revealed that there was an entire city buried under lava. The large extent of the settlement (20 hectares), the elaborate drainage system, the sophisticated multi-storey buildings with the beautiful wall paintings, furniture and vessels show its great development and prosperity. Here are some of the most famous wall paintings:
The various imported objects found in the buildings indicate the wide network of the external relations Akrotiri had. Not only with Crete but with the Greek Mainland, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt.
The finds of the excavations also lead to the following conclusions:
- Habitats evacuated the city before the volcano erupted, probably due to powerful earthquakes. There were never any human remains found on site.
- There was a very advanced and well organized society there at the time.
- Nature and fertility were worshipped in Akrotiri during ancient times.
- Every house had a separate worship space for the residents. On the contrary there were no temples in the city.
The Archeological Site & Useful Information
Visitors tour the archaeological site along ancient Akrotiri's main street, lined with stores and warehouses of the ancient commercial city. You will find descriptive plaques with all the information along the way and you will also be given a leaflet with a map when you buy your tickets.
The site is indoors so you do not have to worry about the heat. There are different routes you can follow depending on how much you want to see. There is also a short route that only takes about half an hour to complete.
The area is wheelchair-accessible and a medical office is available as well.
The entrance costs 12€. There are also licensed tour guides available outside the site. They usually charge around 80€ and the tour lasts for an hour. If there is only two or three of you, you can always wait for more people to split the cost.
Original artefacts are exhibited at the Prehistoric museum in Fira. Some of them have been transported to Athens and can be found at the National Archaeological Museum.
Last summer one of the friends I made during a tour in Santorini said to me he couldn't reach Ancient Akrotiri due to his age and physical condition. And asked me to write about it instead.
So John, this is for you.
Instead of an afterword, I would like to say this:
Now I am not a big fan of museums (or archaeological sites for that matter). But there is something about the excavations in Akrotiri that just gets to you. Standing there imagining that there was a vivid (and well advanced) civilisation there million years ago is just mind blowing.
If Plato's story of Atlantis is true, then maybe this is it. You are looking at the Lost Atlantis. Think about it.
See you all soon,
You can find Akrotiri Excavations in Santorini here:
(1 November 2015 until 31 March 2016)
Tuesday tο Sunday 8:00-15.00
(1th of April till 31st of October 2016) 08:00-20:00, Monday to Sunday