Sunday, February 23, 2014


   Santorini, Thira or Strogili (means Round - older name) is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea, in the Cyclades island group, south west of Ios and Anafi. Distance from Piraeus is 128 nautical miles and 63 nautical miles from Crete. The Athinios, the island's biggest port, has created at the homonymous bay. The area is 76.19 square kilometers.
   Today Santorini is one of the most famous tourist centers of the world.

   It is known for its great volcano. The last volcanic activity was the year 1950. Parts of the volcano are: Nea Kameni (1707-1711 AD), Palea Kameni (46-47 AD), the submarine volcano Columbo (active) (1650 AD), the Christian islands. 
   The island belongs to the Aegean volcanic arc and characterized active volcano with Methana, Milos and Nisyros. The islands Thirassia and Aspronisi are remnants of the volcanic island Strogili (Round). Strogili was a volcanic cone. The central part of it was blown up along with the crater of the volcano from the Minoan eruption in 1613 BC and resulted in the creation of what we now call the caldera of Santorini and the destruction of the prehistoric culture of the island. In the marine gap formed between Thira and Thirassia, which has a depth of 1,500 meters, occasionally surfaced volcanic cones formed following islands: the Old, Little and Nea Kameni, Kameni of George I, the Burned Foucault, the Afrossa and Daphne. All these islands grew slowly and were joined into Kameni.

   The name of the island "Thira" comes from the ancient Spartan named Thira who came first from Sparta and colonized the island. The name "Santorini" comes from passers Frankish Crusaders who, on their passage to refuel, stood near the church of Agia Irini, corrently located in the area behind the church of the Holy Cross (Santa Irina they called it) which existed in the island.
  Before the great volcanic destruction of prehistoric times the island was round and had the name Strogili Strongýlē (Greek: Στρογγύλη, "the circular one" and later acquired the name Kallisti or Callisto (Ancient Greek fairest "the most beautiful"), or Filiteri Filotera, Kalavria, Karisti, Tephsia, Theramenis and Renia. In the Ottomans donimation of Greece for 400 years1!) the Turks called the island "Dermetzik" or "Dimertzik" (= small mill), probably from the many small windmills visible from afar.
   After the liberation of Greece, the name "Thira", but foreigners continued into maps to name it "Santa - Irina", which remained with little alteration by the Greeks as "Santorini".
   The island is the result of repeated sequences of shield volcano construction followed by caldera collapse. The inner coast around the caldera is a sheer precipice of more than 300 m drop at its highest, and exhibits the various layers of solidified lava on top of each other, and the main towns perched on the crest. 
   The ground then slopes outwards and downwards towards the outer perimeter, and the outer beaches are smooth and shallow. Beach sand colour depends on which geologic layer is exposed; there are beaches with sand or pebbles made of solidified lava of various colours: the Red Beach, the Black Beach, the White Beach, etc. The water at the darker coloured beaches is significantly warmer because the lava acts as a heat absorber. 
   Santorini has a group of islands. Those islands are named, Thera, Thirasia, Aspronisi, Palea, and Nea Kameni. They were are created by volcanoes and are located in the Aegean Sea, just north of Crete.


Minoan Akrotiri
   Excavations starting in 1967 at the site called Akrotiri under the late Professor Spyridon Marinatos have made Thera the best-known Minoan site outside of Crete, the homeland of the culture. The island was not known as Thera at this time. Only the southern tip of a large town has been uncovered, yet it has revealed complexes of multi-level buildings, streets, and squares with remains of walls standing as high as eight metres, all entombed in the solidified ash of the famous eruption of Thera.
   The site was not a palace-complex such as are found in Crete, but its excellent masonry and fine wall-paintings show that this was certainly no conglomeration of merchants' warehousing either. A loom-workshop suggests organized textile weaving for export. This Bronze Age civilization thrived between 3000 to 2000 BC, and reached its peak in the period 2000 to 1580 BC.
   Many of the houses in Akrotiri are major structures, some amongst them three stories high. Its streets, squares, and walls were preserved in the layers of ejecta, sometimes as tall as eight metres, and indicating this was a major town. In many houses stone staircases are still intact, and they contain huge ceramic storage jars (pithoi), mills, and pottery. Noted archaeological remains found in Akrotiri are wall paintings or frescoes, which have kept their original colour well, as they were preserved under many metres of volcanic ash. 
   The town also had a highly developed drainage system and, judging from the fine artwork, its citizens were clearly sophisticated and relatively wealthy people.
   Pipes with running water and water closets found at Akrotiri are the oldest such utilities discovered. The pipes run in twin systems, indicating that the Therans used both hot and cold water supplies; the origin of the hot water probably was geothermic, given the volcano's proximity. The dual pipe system, the advanced architecture, and the apparent layout of the Akrotiri find resemble Plato's description of the legendary lost city of Atlantis, further indicating the Minoans as the culture which primarily inspired the Atlantis legend.

   Fragmentary wall-paintings at Akrotiri lack the insistent religious or mythological content familiar in Classical Greek décor. Instead, the Minoan frescoes depict "Saffron-Gatherers", who offer their crocus-stamens to a seated lady, perhaps a goddess. Crocus has been discovered to have many medicinal values including the relief of menstrual pain. This has led many archaeologists to believe that the fresco of the saffron/crocus gatherers is a coming of age fresco dealing with female pubescence. In another house are two antelopes, painted with a kind of confident, flowing, decorative, calligraphic line, the famous fresco of a fisherman with his double strings of fish strung by their gills, and the flotilla of pleasure boats, accompanied by leaping dolphins, where ladies take their ease in the shade of light canopies, among other frescoes.
   The well preserved ruins of the ancient town often are compared to the spectacular ruins at Pompeii in Italy. The canopy covering the ruins collapsed in an accident in September 2005, killing one tourist and injuring seven more. The site was closed for almost seven years while a new canopy was built. The site was re-opened in April 2012.
   The oldest signs of human settlement are Late Neolithic (4th millennium BC or earlier), but ca. 2000–1650 BC Akrotiri developed into one of the Aegean's major Bronze Age ports, with recovered objects that had come, not just from Crete, but also from Anatolia, Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt as well as from the Dodecanese and the Greek mainland.

The Bronze Age eruption
   The Minoan eruption provides a fixed point for the chronology of the second millennium BC in the Aegean, because evidence of the eruption occurs throughout the region and the site itself contains material culture from outside. The eruption occurred during the "Late Minoan IA" period at Crete and the "Late Cycladic I" period in the surrounding islands.

   Archaeological evidence, based on the established chronology of Bronze Age Mediterranean cultures dates the eruption to around 1500 BC. These dates, however, conflict with radiocarbon dating which indicates that the eruption occurred about 1645–1600 BC. 
   Around the time of the radiocarbon-indicated date of the eruption, there is evidence for a significant climatic event in the Northern Hemisphere. The evidence includes failure of crops in China, as well as evidence from tree rings. The tree rings date the climatic event to 1628 BC.

Ancient and medieval Santorini
   Santorini remained unoccupied throughout the rest of the Bronze Age, during which time the Greeks took over Crete. At Knossos, in a LMIIIA context (14th century BC), seven Linear B texts while calling upon "all the gods" make sure to grant primacy to an elsewhere-unattested entity called qe-ra-si-ja and, once, qe-ra-si-jo. If the endings -ia[s] and -ios represent an ethnic suffix, then this means "The One From Qeras[os]".
   Probably after what is called the Bronze Age collapse, Phoenicians founded a site on Thera. Herodotus reports that they called the island Callista and lived on it for eight generations. In the 9th century BC, Dorians founded the main Hellenic city on Mesa Vouno, 396 m (1,299 ft) above sea level. This group later claimed that they had named the city and the island after their leader, Theras. Today, that city is referred to as Ancient Thera.
   In his Argonautica, written in Hellenistic Egypt in the 3rd century BC, Apollonius Rhodius includes an origin and sovereignty myth of Thera being given by Triton in Libya to the Greek Argonaut Euphemus, son of Poseidon, in the form of a clod of dirt. After carrying the dirt next to his heart for several days, Euphemus dreamt that he nursed the dirt with milk from his breast, and that the dirt turned into a beautiful woman with whom he had sex. The woman then told him that she was a daughter of Triton named Kalliste, and that when he threw the dirt into the sea it would grow into an island for his descendants to live on. The poem goes on to claim that the island was named Thera after Euphemus' descendant Theras, son of Autesion, the leader of a group of refugee settlers from Lemnos.

   Oia is considered the oldest settlement on the island.
   The Dorians have left a number of inscriptions incised in stone, in the vicinity of the temple of Apollo. These inscriptions, found by Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen, have been thought by some archaeologists to be of a ritual, celebratory nature, due to their large size, careful construction and – in some cases – execution by craftsmen other than the authors. According to Herodotus, following a drought of seven years, Thera sent out colonists who founded a number of cities in northern Africa, including Cyrene
   In the 5th century BC, Dorian Thera did not join the Delian League with Athens; and during the Peloponnesian War, Thera sided with Dorian Sparta, against Athens. The Athenians took the island during the war, but lost it again after the Battle of Aegospotami. During the Hellenistic period, the island was a major naval base for the Ptolemaic Egypt.
   As with other Greek territories, Thera then was ruled by the Romans. When the Roman Empire was divided, the island passed to the eastern side of the Empire which today is known as the Byzantine Empire. According to George Cedrenus, the volcano erupted again in the summer of 727, the tenth year of the reign of Leo III the Isaurian. He writes: "In the same year, in the summer, a vapour like an oven's fire boiled up for days out of the middle of the islands of Thera and Therasia from the depths of the sea, and the whole place burned like fire, little by little thickening and turning to stone, and the air seemed to be a fiery torch."

   During the Crusades, the "Franks" – i. e. Catholic Western Europeans – annexed the isle to the Duchy of Naxos and renamed it "Santorini", that is "Saint Irene". Santorini came under Ottoman rule in 1579.
   Santorini became independent from Ottoman rule in 1821, during the Greek War of Independence and was united with Greece in 1830 under the Treaty of London.

Modern Santorini

   After the liberation of the island and its inclusion in the newly established Greek state in 1830, the main source of income was trade and shipping. In 1852, Santorini, with 7,222 inhabitants is the second largest shopping center after the Syros in the Cyclades, with transactions primarily with Russia, which is the main importing country of Santorini wine. Another important source of income was the production of agricultural products and in particular the manufacture of wine.

   The volcano began erupting the January 26, 1866. Before the eruption observed warming of the waters near Nea Kameni. The eruption consisted of pouring lava and structures. An earthquake of 6.1 on the Richter scale took place on January 30 and caused damage to 50 houses and two churches, according to the literature the eruption finished on Oct. 15, 1870. The explosion took place in the crater of St. George and AFROESSA created islets of May have now sunk, and tripled the area of Palea Kameni.
   At 28th of July 1925 observed earthquakes, warned residents that an eruption is imminent. In the Red Water, between the islands of Nea Kameni and Small, the sea temperature rose and the sea changed color. 
   The eruption began on August 25th with ground water explosions, later seen explosive volcanic ash columns that reached a height of 3.5 km! The activity focused on the volcanic dome Daphne, poured lava and led to the union of New and Small Kameni. The first phase of the eruption ended in 1926. A second, smaller Domos formed a new eruption in 1928 was named Nautilus.    The volcano erupted again in 1939, and created the blocks Triton Ktena Ms Fouquet and lava flows Smith, Reck and Nike. The explosion ended in July 1941.
   The most recent eruption took place from January 10, 1950 until February 2 of that year and created the dome of sundried. These volcanic rocks are the most recently created in Greece.
   During the Second World War, Santorini was occupied first by the Italians (1941) and then in 1943 by German occupying forces. On July 9th 1956, near Amorgos, occurred earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, which was the strongest that took place in Europe during the 20th century. The main earthquake, with a Richter 6.9 aftershock followed 12 minutes, spanned caused disasters in Santorini, Astypalea, Anafi, Kalymnos, Leros, Patmos, Amorgos and also 53 deaths, and one of the largest tsunamis in the Aegean with a height up to 25 meters. After this fact much of the population left the island. 
   The 1960s began to develop tourism in Santorini, reaching its peak in the mid- 1980s. Since then, tourism on the island knows continued growth, having now made Santorini one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. The cruises start at the island from March and continues until the end of November , having extended time tourist season . During the summer months more than 30 to 40 charter from every corner of the world are landing at airport.
   It is characteristic that even the winter months the visits of tourists to the island do not stop. The huge development of tourism in the island 's natural to have altered the character of the island. Hundreds of new buildings have made their appearance everywhere and the famous island of farms and vineyards have been reduced greatly in size, giving the place a luxurious hotel facilities, bars, restaurants etc.

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