Akrotiri Excavations

Akrotiri is the name of a small Minoan settlement located on the volcanic island of Thera (or Santorini) in the Aegean Sea. Occupied first in the late Neolithic period during the fourth millennium BC, Akrotiri grew to an important trade center during the middle and late Bronze Age, with an elaborate drainage system and a palace.

In the late 17th century BC, a series of earthquakes forced the abandonment of the town, and a good thing too: Thera erupted shortly afterward, covering the city in ash and splitting the island in two.

Akrotiri has been suggested as a possible origin of Plato's Atlantis legend; archaeologists are more interested in the effects the eruption had on the Minoan culture. Most recently, controversy has stirred over the precise date of the eruptions at Akrotiri, with both ice core and volcanic dates indicating that the volcano erupted about 1625 BC, or about 100 years earlier than traditional dates.

The excavations at Akrotiri have uncovered one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the .Aegean. The first habitation at the site dates from the Late Neolithic times at least the 4th millennium BC).
During the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC), a sizeable settlement was founded and in the Middle and early Late Bronze Age (ca. 20th-17th centuries BC) it was extended and gradually developed into one. of the main urban centers and ports of the Aegean.

The large extent of the settlement (ca. 20 hectares) he elaborate drainage system, the sophisticated multi-storied buildings with the magnificent wall-paintings„ furniture and vessels, show its great development and prosperity.

The various imported objects found in the buildings indicate the wide network cf its external relations. Akrotiri was in contact with Crete but also communicated with the Greek Mainland, the Dodecanese, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt.

The town's life came to an abrupt end in the last quarter of the 17th century BC when the inhabitants were obliged tc abandon it as a result of severe earthquakes. The eruption followed. The volcanic materials covered the entire island and the town itself. These materials, however, have protected up to date the buildings and their contents, similar to Pompeii.


Evidence of habitation at Akrotiri first came to light in the second half of the 19th century. However, systematic excavations were begun much later, in 1967„ by Professor Spyridon Marinatos under the auspices of the Archaeological Society at Athens. He decided to excavate at Akrotiri in the hope cif verifying an cld theory cif his; published in the 1930's, that the eruption of the Thira volcano was responsible for the collapse of the Minoan civilization. Since his death in 19741 the excavations have been continued under the successful direction of Professor Christos Doumas.



Xeste 3 Large edifice, at least two-storey’s high, with fourteen rooms on each floor. Some of rooms connected by multiple doors and decorated with magnificent wall-paintings. In one of them there was a "Lustral basin" which is considered a sacred area. One may conclude that Xeste 3 was used for the performance of some kind of ritual.


Sector B Possibly comprise-.s two separate buildings, the one attached to the other. From the first floor of the western building, came the famous wall paintings of the Antelopes and the Boxing Boys. The eastern building yielded the "Fresco of the Monkeys', a composition of monkeys climbing on rocks at the side cif a river.


The large two-storied building was named after the fresco with the Ladies and the Papyrus (Cyperus Papyrus), which decorated the interior. The most interesting architectural feature of the building is a light-well constructed at its center.


A relatively small( but well-organized building. On the ground floor there are storerooms, workshops, a kitchen and a mill-installation. The first floor is occupied by a spacious chamber used for weaving activities, a room for the storage mainly cif clay vessels,. a lavatory and two rooms, the one next to the other; embellished with magnificent murals. The first was decorated with the t....vo frescoes of the Fishermen, the fresco cif the Young Priestess and the famous Flotilla miniature frieze. The latter ran around all the four walk and depicted a major overseas voyage, in the course cif which, the fleet visited several harbors and towns.

XESTE4Xeste 4
A magnificent three-storied building, the largest has been excavated up to now. All its facade-s are reverted with rectangular ashlars blocks of tuff. The fragments of frescoes that have so far come to light belong to a composition which adorned the walls on either side of the staircase at the entrance of the building, depicting life size male figures ascending the steps in procession. It was in all probability a public building, judging from its unusually large dimensions, the impressive exterior and the decoration of the walls.

Complex Delta includes four houses A room cif the eastern building is decorated with the Spring fresco: the artist represented with special sensitivity a rocky landscape, planted with blossoming lilies, between which swallows fly in a variety of positions. Tablets of the Linear. A script have recently been found in the same building. All four buildings yielded interesting finds such as abundant imported pottery and precious stone and bronze objects.

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