Pompeii in Italy is a remarkable and incredibly stunning archeological site as it has beautifully preserved a snapshot in the time of the Roman world. But Pompeii is not wholly unique, it was not the first ancient settlement to be destroyed by a devasting volcanic eruption. Akrotiri in Greece was destroyed long before Pompeii existed.
Akrotiri lies in the stunning Greek Islands and is a chance to see something more than just relaxing on the stunning beaches there. Akrotiri is a chance to go 3,500 years back in time.
The Destruction Of Akrotiri By The Theran Eruption
Akrotiri was a Cycladic Bronze Age settlement on the Greek island of Santorini (Thera) and was destroyed by the powerful Theran eruption. It was destroyed sometime in the 16th century BC and was buried in volcanic ash. Like in Pompeii, the ash has preserved some of the fine frescoes and other objects at would otherwise have been lost to time.
- Located: On The Greek Island of Santorini (Thera)
- Buried: Sometime in the 16th Century BC
It has been suggested that Akrotiri could have been the inspiration for Plato's story of the Lost City of Atlantis. While most modern scholars think Atlantis likely never existed, if it did, Akrotiri is one of the more credible candidates.
- Atlantis: One Of the More Credible Suggestions For The Origin of the Story Atlantis
According to Archeology Travel, the residents of Akrotiri were forced to abandon the town after a series of severe earthquakes. After that, the volcanic eruption happened and the ash completely covered the town.
The Scale of The Theran Eruption
The Theran Eruption (also called the Minoan Eruption) was one of the most devastating eruptions of the last few thousand years. In addition to destroying Akrotiri, it also destroyed communities and agricultural areas on the nearby islands and on the coast of Crete.
It was one of the largest volcanic events in human history. Its plume and volcanic lightning may have been described in the Egyptian Tempest Stele and the resulting volcanic winter may have been the cold wave that is mentioned in the Chinese Bamboo Annals.
History and Prosperity of Akrotiri
The earliest evidence for the habilitation of the site dates back to the fifth millennium BC as a small fishing and farming village. It grew and benefited from its location on the main sailing route between Cyprus and Minoan Crete and profited from the copper trade. It became an important point for processing copper with some of the copper smelting facilities having been discovered there.
- Copper: Akrotiri Prospered With The Copper Trade
The settlement prospered for around 500 years and got paved streets, an extensive drainage system, and produced various high-quality potteries. The settlement extended an estimated 20 hectares although the full site has not been excavated.
- Drainage: The Settlement Had An Elaborate Drainage System
- Buildings: It Has Sophisticated Multi-Storey buildings
- Frescos: There Are Ornate Frescos and Exquisite Wall Paintings
- Furniture: The Quality and Quantity of The Furniture and Ceramic Vessels Shows it Was Prosperous
Nothing lasts forever. While some things fate and go out with a whimper like the Fall of Rome, others go out with a bang - literally. That was Akrokiri's fate when it abruptly perished under a blanket of volcanic ash between 1620 and 1530 BC. Exact dates have been suggested as 1597, 1560, 1546, and 1544 BC.
Akrotiri Archeological Site Today
Today it is remarkably well-preserved and is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece.
It is open to the public and the site is covered by a bioclimatic roof to preserve the ruins. Additionally, there are walkways suspended above the ruins at that visitors do not disturb the site and so that they can walk among the two and three-story buildings. The exactions are ongoing and the walkways lead around active archaeological excavations.
If one has a rental car on the island, then it is an easy drive, otherwise, public transport is also very good. There are regular buses to the car park at Akrotiri Red Beach - just 250 meters away.
- Open: It is Open The Public
- Access: It Is Accessible by Bus
As part of exploring Akrotiri, visit the Akrotiri of Thera Room in the National Archaeological Museum in Athens as well and see a number of frescoes and other artifacts on display there.