Santorini
Overview
 
Santorini officially Thira (Greek: Θήρα [ˈθira]), is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

, about 200 km (124.3 mi) southeast from Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades
Cyclades
The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

 group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km² (28.2 sq mi) and a 2001 census population of 13,670.
Encyclopedia
Santorini officially Thira (Greek: Θήρα [ˈθira]), is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

, about 200 km (124.3 mi) southeast from Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

's mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

. It forms the southernmost member of the Cyclades
Cyclades
The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

 group of islands, with an area of approximately 73 km² (28.2 sq mi) and a 2001 census population of 13,670. The municipality of Santorini comprises the inhabited islands of Santorini and Therasia
Therasia
Therasia, also known as Thirasía , is an island in the volcanic island group of Santorini in the Greek Cyclades. It lies north-west of Nea Kameni, a small island formed in recent centuries by volcanic activity and thus marking the centre of the island group...

 and the uninhabited islands of Nea Kameni
Nea Kameni
Nea Kameni is a small uninhabited Greek island of volcanic origin located in the Aegean Sea within the flooded Santorini caldera. Nea Kameni and the neighbouring small island Palea Kameni have formed over the past two millennia by repeated eruptions of dacite lava and ash...

, Palaia Kameni, Aspronisi, and Christiana. The total land area is 90.623 km² (35 sq mi). Santorini is part of the Santorini peripheral unit.

Santorini is essentially what remains after an enormous volcanic explosion that destroyed the earliest settlements, on a formerly single island, and created the current geological caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

. A giant central, rectangular lagoon, which measures about 12 by, is surrounded by 300 m (984.3 ft) high, steep cliffs on three sides. The main island slopes downward to the Aegean Sea. On the fourth side, the lagoon is separated from the sea by another much smaller island called Therasia
Therasia
Therasia, also known as Thirasía , is an island in the volcanic island group of Santorini in the Greek Cyclades. It lies north-west of Nea Kameni, a small island formed in recent centuries by volcanic activity and thus marking the centre of the island group...

; the lagoon is connected to the sea in two places, in the northwest and southwest. The water in the center of the lagoon is nearly 400 m (1,312.3 ft) deep, thus making it a safe harbor for all kinds of shipping. The island's harbors all lie in the lagoon, and there are no ports on the perimeter of the island; the capital, Fira
Fira
Firá is the modern capital of the Greek Aegean island, Santorini. It is a traditional settlement. "Firá", actually, is a different pronunciation of "Thíra", the ancient name of the island itself....

, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. The volcanic rocks present from the prior eruptions feature olivine
Olivine
The mineral olivine is a magnesium iron silicate with the formula 2SiO4. It is a common mineral in the Earth's subsurface but weathers quickly on the surface....

 and have a notably small presence of hornblende
Hornblende
Hornblende is a complex inosilicate series of minerals .It is not a recognized mineral in its own right, but the name is used as a general or field term, to refer to a dark amphibole....

.

It is the most active volcanic center in the South Aegean Volcanic Arc
South Aegean Volcanic Arc
The South Aegean Volcanic Arc is a chain of volcanic islands in the South Aegean Sea formed by plate tectonics as a consequence of the subduction of the African tectonic plate beneath the Eurasian plate...

, though what remains today is chiefly a water-filled caldera. The volcanic arc is approximately 500 km (310.7 mi) long and 20 to 40 km (12.4 to 24.9 mi) wide. The region first became volcanically active around 3–4 million years ago, though volcanism on Thera began around 2 million years ago with the extrusion of dacitic lavas from vents around the Akrotiri
Akrotiri (Santorini)
Akrotiri is the name of an excavation site of a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on the Greek island of Santorini, associated with the Minoan civilization due to inscriptions in Linear A, and close similarities in artifact and fresco styles. The excavation is named for a modern Greek village situated...

.

The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

. The eruption left a large caldera surrounded by volcanic ash
Volcanic ash
Volcanic ash consists of small tephra, which are bits of pulverized rock and glass created by volcanic eruptions, less than in diameter. There are three mechanisms of volcanic ash formation: gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions; thermal contraction from chilling on contact...

 deposits hundreds of feet deep and may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, 110 km (68.4 mi) to the south, through a gigantic tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

. This theory is not, however, supported by chronology, in that the collapse of the Minoan civilization did not occur at the date of the tsunami, but some 90 years later. Another popular theory holds that the Thera eruption is the source of the legend of Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....

.

Names

Santorini was named by the Latin Empire
Latin Empire
The Latin Empire or Latin Empire of Constantinople is the name given by historians to the feudal Crusader state founded by the leaders of the Fourth Crusade on lands captured from the Byzantine Empire. It was established after the capture of Constantinople in 1204 and lasted until 1261...

 in the thirteenth century, and is a reference to Saint Irene
Saint Irene
Saint Irene may refer to:* Irene of Thessalonica, one of the virgin sisters, feast day April 3* Irene of Rome , wife of martyr Saint Castulus, feast day January 22* Irene of Tomar Saint Irene may refer to:* Irene of Thessalonica, one of the virgin sisters, feast day April 3* Irene of Rome (died c....

, from the name of the old cathedal in the village of Perissa. Before then, it was known as Kallístē (Καλλίστη, "the most beautiful one"), Strongýlē , or Thēra. The name Thera was revived in the nineteenth century as the official name of the island and its main city, but the colloquial name Santorini is still in popular use. During the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

's domination of the Aegean Sea, the Turkish exonym for the island was "Santurin" or "Santoron".

Municipality

The present municipality of Thera (officially: "Thira") , which covers all settlements on the islands of Santorini and Therasia
Therasia
Therasia, also known as Thirasía , is an island in the volcanic island group of Santorini in the Greek Cyclades. It lies north-west of Nea Kameni, a small island formed in recent centuries by volcanic activity and thus marking the centre of the island group...

, was formed at the 2011 local government reform, by the merger of the former Oia
Oia, Greece
Oia is a former community on the islands of Thira and Therasia, in the Cyclades, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Santorini, of which it is a municipal unit. It covers the whole island Therasia and the northwesternmost part of Santorini, which it...

 and Thera municipalities.

Oia is now called a Κοινότητα (commune), within the municipality of Thera, and it comprises the local subdivisions of Therasia and Oia
Oia, Greece
Oia is a former community on the islands of Thira and Therasia, in the Cyclades, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Santorini, of which it is a municipal unit. It covers the whole island Therasia and the northwesternmost part of Santorini, which it...

.

The municipality of Thera includes an additional 12 local subdivisions on Santorini island: Akrotiri, Emporio, Episkopis Gonia, Exo Gonia, Imerovigli
Imerovigli
Imerovigli is actually a neighbourhood of Fira village, as it is only 2 km away from the capital of Santorini. Imerovigli is mostly famous for its beautiful sunset, that it is called "balcony to the Aegean"...

, Karterakos, Megalohori, Mesaria, Pyrgos Kallistis, Thera (the seat of the municipality), Vothon, and Vourvoulos.

Geologic setting

The Cyclades are part of a metamorphic
Metamorphism
Metamorphism is the solid-state recrystallization of pre-existing rocks due to changes in physical and chemical conditions, primarily heat, pressure, and the introduction of chemically active fluids. Mineralogical, chemical and crystallographic changes can occur during this process...

 complex that is known as the Cycladic Massif
Cycladic Massif
The Cycladic Massif is a Miocene high-pressure orogenic segment located in the Aegean Sea underlying the Cyclades. Initially, the Massif was a single island which began to break apart due to the tectonic activities of the subduction of the African plate under the Eurasian plate during the late...

. The complex formed during the Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 and was folded and metamorphosed during the Alpine Orogeny
Alpine orogeny
The Alpine orogeny is an orogenic phase in the Late Mesozoic and Tertiary that formed the mountain ranges of the Alpide belt...

 around 60 million years ago. Thera is built upon a small, non-volcanic basement
Basement Rock
Basement or Basement Rock music was a sub-genre coined in 2006 in an article by music magazine TGR. This was first in relation to the existence of underground record label Criminal Records but more for the independent bands they represent. The roots of the sub-genre are noted to be as far back as...

 that represents the former non-volcanic island, which was approximately 9 by. The basement rock primarily comprises metamorphosed limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

 and schist
Schist
The schists constitute a group of medium-grade metamorphic rocks, chiefly notable for the preponderance of lamellar minerals such as micas, chlorite, talc, hornblende, graphite, and others. Quartz often occurs in drawn-out grains to such an extent that a particular form called quartz schist is...

, which date from the Alpine Orogeny. These non-volcanic rocks are exposed at the Profitis Ilias
Profitis Ilias
Profitis Ilias is a neighborhood of Athens, Greece....

 Mountains, Mesa Vouno, the Gavrillos ridge, Pyrgos
Pyrgos Kallistis
thumb|200px|Church in Pyrgos Pyrgos Kallistis or simply Pyrgos is a picturesque village on the Aegean island of Santorini, Greece,in the Cyclades prefecture with a population of approx. 732 according to the 2001 census....

, Monolithos
Monolithos
Monolithos, Poems 1962 and 1982 is the second book of poetry by American poet Jack Gilbert. It was nominated for all three major American book awards: the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and the American Book Award. The same year Monolithos was published,...

, and the inner side of the caldera wall between Cape Plaka and Athinios.

The metamorphic grade comprises a blueschist
Blueschist
Blueschist is a rock that forms by the metamorphism of basalt and rocks with similar composition at high pressures and low temperatures, approximately corresponding to a depth of 15 to 30 kilometers and 200 to ~500 degrees Celsius....

 facies
Metamorphic facies
The metamorphic facies are groups of mineral compositions in metamorphic rocks, that are typical for a certain field in pressure-temperature space...

, which results from tectonic deformation by the subduction
Subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 of the African Plate
African Plate
The African Plate is a tectonic plate which includes the continent of Africa, as well as oceanic crust which lies between the continent and various surrounding ocean ridges.-Boundaries:...

 beneath the Eurasian Plate
Eurasian Plate
The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate which includes most of the continent of Eurasia , with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian subcontinent, and the area east of the Chersky Range in East Siberia...

. Subduction occurred between the Oligocene
Oligocene
The Oligocene is a geologic epoch of the Paleogene Period and extends from about 34 million to 23 million years before the present . As with other older geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the period are slightly...

 and the Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

, and the metamorphic grade represents the southernmost extent of the Cycladic blueschist belt.

Volcanism on Santorini is due to the Hellenic Trench
Hellenic Trench
The Hellenic Trench is a hemispherical-scale long narrow depression in the Ionian Sea.The hadal zone of the Hellenic trench is roughly to 5,300 metres deep. The names of the three major parts of the Hellenic trench are: Matapan Deep System or Matapan–Vavilov Deep, roughly , the...

 subduction zone southwest of Crete. The oceanic crust
Oceanic crust
Oceanic crust is the part of Earth's lithosphere that surfaces in the ocean basins. Oceanic crust is primarily composed of mafic rocks, or sima, which is rich in iron and magnesium...

 of the northern margin of the African Plate
African Plate
The African Plate is a tectonic plate which includes the continent of Africa, as well as oceanic crust which lies between the continent and various surrounding ocean ridges.-Boundaries:...

 is being subducted under Greece and the Aegean Sea. which comprises thinned continental crust
Continental crust
The continental crust is the layer of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks which form the continents and the areas of shallow seabed close to their shores, known as continental shelves. This layer is sometimes called sial due to more felsic, or granitic, bulk composition, which lies in...

. The subduction compels the formation of the Hellenic arc
Hellenic arc
The Hellenic arc or Aegean arc is an arcuate tectonic feature of the eastern Mediterranean Sea related to the subduction of the African Plate beneath the Aegean Sea Plate...

, which includes Santorini and other volcanic centers, such as Methana
Methana Volcano
The Methana volcano peninsula is situated approximately 50 km southeast of Athens in Greece.-Geological history:The Methana peninsula contains some 32 volcanoes, that are mostly andesitic / dacitic lava domes.The volcanic activity in the peninsula began one million years ago and continued...

, Milos
Milos
Milos , is a volcanic Greek island in the Aegean Sea, just north of the Sea of Crete...

, and Kos
Kos
Kos or Cos is a Greek island in the south Sporades group of the Dodecanese, next to the Gulf of Gökova/Cos. It measures by , and is from the coast of Bodrum, Turkey and the ancient region of Caria. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Kos peripheral unit, which is...

.

Geography

The island is the remnant of a volcanic cone
Volcanic cone
Volcanic cones are among the simplest volcanic formations. They are built by ejecta from a volcanic vent, piling up around the vent in the shape of a cone with a central crater. Volcanic cones are of different types, depending upon the nature and size of the fragments ejected during the eruption...

 whose top was blown off. 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 color depends on which geologic layer is exposed; there are beaches with sand or pebbles made of solidified lava of various colors: the Red Beach, the Black Beach, the White Beach, etc. The water at the darker colored beaches is significantly warmer because the lava acts as a heat absorber.

Climate

Santorini and Anafi
Anafi
Anafi is a Greek island community in the Cyclades. In 2001, it had a population of 273 inhabitants. Its land area is 40.370 km². It lies east of the island of Thíra...

 are the only locations in Europe to feature a hot desert climate
Desert climate
A desert climate , also known as an arid climate, is a climate that does not meet the criteria to be classified as a polar climate, and in which precipitation is too low to sustain any vegetation at all, or at most a very scanty scrub.An area that features this climate usually experiences less than...

 according to the Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 system.

Minoan Akrotiri

Excavations starting in 1967 at the site called Akrotiri
Akrotiri (Santorini)
Akrotiri is the name of an excavation site of a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on the Greek island of Santorini, associated with the Minoan civilization due to inscriptions in Linear A, and close similarities in artifact and fresco styles. The excavation is named for a modern Greek village situated...

 under the late Professor Spyridon Marinatos
Spyridon Marinatos
Spyridon Nikolaou Marinatos was one of the premier Greek archaeologists of the 20th century.- Career :...

 have made Thera the best-known "Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

" site outside of Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, 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
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, 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
Textile
A textile or cloth is a flexible woven material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw fibres of wool, flax, cotton, or other material to produce long strands...

 weaving
Weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...

 for export. This Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 civilization thrived between 3000 to 2000 BC, and reached its peak in the period 2000 to 1580 BC.

Some of the houses in Akrotiri are major structures, some amongst them three storeys 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 fresco
Fresco
Fresco is any of several related mural painting types, executed on plaster on walls or ceilings. The word fresco comes from the Greek word affresca which derives from the Latin word for "fresh". Frescoes first developed in the ancient world and continued to be popular through the Renaissance...

es, which have kept their original colour well, as they were preserved under many meters 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
Geothermal power
Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of minerals...

, given the volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

's proximity. The dual pipe system suggesting hot and cold running water, the advanced architecture, and the apparent layout of the Akrotiri find resemble Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's description of the legendary lost city of Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....

, 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
Saffron
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the saffron crocus. Crocus is a genus in the family Iridaceae. Each saffron crocus grows to and bears up to four flowers, each with three vivid crimson stigmas, which are each the distal end of a carpel...

-Gatherers", who offer their crocus
Crocus
Crocus is a genus in the iris family comprising about 80 species of perennials growing from corms. Many are cultivated for their flowers appearing in autumn, winter, or spring...

-stamens to a seated lady, perhaps a goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

. 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
Fisherman
A fisherman or fisher is someone who captures fish and other animals from a body of water, or gathers shellfish. Worldwide, there are about 38 million commercial and subsistence fishermen and fish farmers. The term can also be applied to recreational fishermen and may be used to describe both men...

 with his double strings of fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 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
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

 in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. The canopy covering the ruins collapsed in an accident in September 2005, killing one tourist and injuring seven more. The site remains closed while a new canopy is being built.

The oldest signs of human settlement are Late Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 (4th millennium BC
4th millennium BC
The 4th millennium BC saw major changes in human culture. It marked the beginning of the Bronze Age and of writing.The city states of Sumer and the kingdom of Egypt were established and grew to prominence. Agriculture spread widely across Eurasia...

 or earlier), but ca. 2000
19th century BC
-Events:* Hittite empire in Hattusa, Anatolia.* 1900 BC: Proto-Greek invasions of Greece.* c. 1900 BC: Minoan Old Palace period starts in Crete.* c. 1900 BC: Fall of last Sumerian dynasty....

–1650 BC Akrotiri developed into one of the Aegean's major Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 ports, with recovered objects that had come, not just from Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, but also from Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 as well as from the Dodecanese
Dodecanese
The Dodecanese are a group of 12 larger plus 150 smaller Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, of which 26 are inhabited. Τhis island group generally defines the eastern limit of the Sea of Crete. They belong to the Southern Sporades island group...

 and the Greek mainland.

Dating of 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
Radiocarbon dating
Radiocarbon dating is a radiometric dating method that uses the naturally occurring radioisotope carbon-14 to estimate the age of carbon-bearing materials up to about 58,000 to 62,000 years. Raw, i.e. uncalibrated, radiocarbon ages are usually reported in radiocarbon years "Before Present" ,...

 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
Dendrochronology
Dendrochronology or tree-ring dating is the scientific method of dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree-rings. Dendrochronology can date the time at which tree rings were formed, in many types of wood, to the exact calendar year...

. 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
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

. At Knossos
Knossos
Knossos , also known as Labyrinth, or Knossos Palace, is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and probably the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. The palace appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and store rooms close to a central square...

, in a LMIIIA context (14th century BC), seven Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 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 ethnikonic suffix, then this means "The One From Qeras[os]". If aspirated, *Qhera- would have become "Thera-" in later Greek. "Therasia" and its ethnikon "Therasios" are both attested in later Greek; and, since -sos was itself a genitive suffix in the Aegean Sprachbund
Sprachbund
A Sprachbund – also known as a linguistic area, convergence area, diffusion area or language crossroads – is a group of languages that have become similar in some way because of geographical proximity and language contact. They may be genetically unrelated, or only distantly related...

, *Qeras[os] could also shrink to *Qera. An alternate view takes qe-ra-si-ja and qe-ra-si-jo as proof of androgyny, and applies this name by similar arguments to the legendary seer, Tiresias, but these views are not mutually exclusive of one another. If qe-ra-si-ja was an ethnikon first, then in following him/her/it the Cretans also feared whence it came.

Over the centuries after the general catastrophes of 1200 BC, Phoenicians founded a site on Thera. Herodotus reports that the Phoenicians called the island Callista and lived on it for eight generations. Then, in the 9th century BC, Dorians founded the main Hellenic city - on Mesa Vouno, 396 m 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
Ancient Thera
Ancient Thera is an antique city on a ridge of the steep, 360 m high Messavouno mountain on the Greek island of Santorini. It was named after the mythical ruler of the island, Theras, and was inhabited from the 9th century BC until 726 AD...

.

Apollonius Rhodius' Argonautica, written in Hellenistic Egypt in the 3rd century BC, includes an origin and sovereignty myth of Thera being given by Triton
Triton (mythology)
Triton is a mythological Greek god, the messenger of the big sea. He is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and Amphitrite, goddess of the sea, whose herald he is...

 in Libya to the Greek Argonaut
Argonauts
The Argonauts ) were a band of heroes in Greek mythology who, in the years before the Trojan War, accompanied Jason to Colchis in his quest to find the Golden Fleece. Their name comes from their ship, the Argo, which was named after its builder, Argus. "Argonauts", therefore, literally means...

 Euphemus
Euphemus
Euphemus in Greek mythology was a son of Poseidon, an Argonaut connected with the legend of the foundation of Cyrene.Euphemus is also a character mentioned in in Book II of the Iliad.- Greek mythology :...

, son of Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to 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.

The Dorians have left a number of inscriptions incised in stone, in the vicinity of the temple of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, attesting to pederastic relations
Pederasty in ancient Greece
Pederasty in ancient Greece was a socially acknowledged relationship between an adult and a younger male usually in his teens. It was characteristic of the Archaic and Classical periods...

 between the authors and their eromenoi. 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
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 (4.149-165), following a drought of seven years, Thera sent out colonists who founded a number of cities in northern Africa, including Cyrene
Cyrene, Libya
Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony and then a Roman city in present-day Shahhat, Libya, the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times.Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar...

.

In the 5th century BC, Dorian Thera did not join the Delian League
Delian League
The Delian League, founded in circa 477 BC, was an association of Greek city-states, members numbering between 150 to 173, under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Greco–Persian Wars...

 with Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

; and during the Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BC, was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases...

, Thera sided with Dorian Sparta, against Athens. The Athenians took the island during the war, but lost it again after the Battle of Aegospotami
Battle of Aegospotami
The naval Battle of Aegospotami took place in 405 BC and was the last major battle of the Peloponnesian War. In the battle, a Spartan fleet under Lysander completely destroyed the Athenian navy...

.

During the Hellenistic period, the island was a major naval base for the Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

.

As with other Greek territories, Thera then was ruled by the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

;
it passed to the eastern side of the Empire when it divided - which now is known as the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

.

According to George Cedrenus, the volcano erupted in the summer of 727, the tenth year of the reign of Leo III the Isaurian
Leo III the Isaurian
Leo III the Isaurian or the Syrian , was Byzantine emperor from 717 until his death in 741...

. 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" (Catholic Western Europeans) settled it, while in the 13th century AD, the Venetians annexed the isle to the Duchy of Naxos and renamed it "Santorini", that is "Saint Irene
Saint Irene
Saint Irene may refer to:* Irene of Thessalonica, one of the virgin sisters, feast day April 3* Irene of Rome , wife of martyr Saint Castulus, feast day January 22* Irene of Tomar Saint Irene may refer to:* Irene of Thessalonica, one of the virgin sisters, feast day April 3* Irene of Rome (died c....

". Santorini came under Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 rule in 1579.

Santorini in the Greek State

Santorini became independent from Ottoman rule in 1821, during the Greek War of Independence
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

 and was united with Greece in 1830 under the Treaty of London.

Modern Santorini

In 1956 a major earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

 and a volcanic eruption resulted in the demolishing of many buildings on the island, leading to the desertion of many of its villages.

The expansion of tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 has resulted the growth of the economy and population. The major settlements include Fira (Phira)
Fira
Firá is the modern capital of the Greek Aegean island, Santorini. It is a traditional settlement. "Firá", actually, is a different pronunciation of "Thíra", the ancient name of the island itself....

, Oia
Oia, Greece
Oia is a former community on the islands of Thira and Therasia, in the Cyclades, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Santorini, of which it is a municipal unit. It covers the whole island Therasia and the northwesternmost part of Santorini, which it...

, Emporio, Kamari
Kamari
Kamari is a coastal village on the southeastern part of the Aegean island of Santorini, Greece, in the Cyclades prefecture with a population of approx. 1800 according to the 2001 census. It is part of the...

, Perissa, Imerovigli
Imerovigli
Imerovigli is actually a neighbourhood of Fira village, as it is only 2 km away from the capital of Santorini. Imerovigli is mostly famous for its beautiful sunset, that it is called "balcony to the Aegean"...

, Pyrgos
Pyrgos Kallistis
thumb|200px|Church in Pyrgos Pyrgos Kallistis or simply Pyrgos is a picturesque village on the Aegean island of Santorini, Greece,in the Cyclades prefecture with a population of approx. 732 according to the 2001 census....

, and Therasia
Therasia
Therasia, also known as Thirasía , is an island in the volcanic island group of Santorini in the Greek Cyclades. It lies north-west of Nea Kameni, a small island formed in recent centuries by volcanic activity and thus marking the centre of the island group...

. Akrotiri
Akrotiri (Santorini)
Akrotiri is the name of an excavation site of a Minoan Bronze Age settlement on the Greek island of Santorini, associated with the Minoan civilization due to inscriptions in Linear A, and close similarities in artifact and fresco styles. The excavation is named for a modern Greek village situated...

 is a major archaeological site, with ruins from the Minoan era. Santorini's primary industry is tourism
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

, particularly in the summer months. The island's pumice
Pumice
Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock that is a solidified frothy lava typically created when super-heated, highly pressurized rock is violently ejected from a volcano. It can be formed when lava and water are mixed. This unusual formation is due to the simultaneous actions of rapid...

 quarries have been closed since 1986, in order to preserve the caldera. Santorini was ranked world's top island for 2011 in Travel+Leisure Magazine.. Santorini was also named "the world's best island" by BBC in 2011.

Aridity

Santorini has no rivers, and water is scarce. Until the early 1990s locals filled water cisterns from the rain that fell on roofs and courts, from small springs, and with imported assistance from other areas of Greece. In recent years a desalination
Desalination
Desalination, desalinization, or desalinisation refers to any of several processes that remove some amount of salt and other minerals from saline water...

 plant has provided running, yet non-potable, water to most houses. Since rain is rare on the island from mid-spring till mid-autumn, many plants depend on the scant moisture provided by the common, early morning fog condensing on the ground as dew
Dew
[Image:Dew on a flower.jpg|right|220px|thumb|Some dew on an iris in Sequoia National Park]]Dew is water in the form of droplets that appears on thin, exposed objects in the morning or evening...

.

Wine industry

The island remains the home of a small, but flourishing, wine
Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

 industry, based on the indigenous grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

 variety, Assyrtiko
Assyrtiko
Assyrtiko or Asyrtiko is a white Greek wine grape indigenous to the island of Santorini. Assyrtiko is widely planted in the arid volcanic-ash-rich soil of Santorini and other Aegean islands, such as Paros...

, with auxiliary cultivations of two other Aegean varietals, Athiri
Athiri
Athiri or Athiri Aspro is a white Greek wine grape used to make Retsina on the island of Rhodes.The grape is noted for its lemon character and in other parts of Greece it is often blended with Assyrtiko...

and Aidani. The vines are extremely old and resistant to phylloxera
Phylloxera
Grape phylloxera ; originally described in France as Phylloxera vastatrix; equated to the previously described Daktulosphaira vitifoliae, Phylloxera vitifoliae; commonly just called phylloxera is a pest of commercial grapevines worldwide, originally native to eastern North America...

 (attributed by local winemakers to the well-drained volcanic soil and its chemistry), so the vines needed no replacement during the great phylloxera epidemic of the early 20th century. In their adaptation to their habitat, such vines are planted far apart, as their principal source of moisture is dew, and they often are trained in the shape of low-spiralling baskets, with the grapes hanging inside to protect them from the winds.

The viticultural pride of the island is the sweet and strong Vinsanto , a dessert wine made from the best sun-dried Assyrtiko, Athiri, and Aidani grapes and undergoing long barrel aging (up to twenty or twenty-five years for the top cuvées). It matures to a sweet, dark amber-orange, unctuous dessert wine that has achieved worldwide fame, possessing the standard Assyrtiko aromas of citrus and minerals, layered with overtones of nuts, raisins, figs, honey and tea.

White wines from the island are extremely dry with a strong, citrus scent and mineral and iodide salt aromas contributed by the ashy volcanic soil, whereas barrel aging gives to some of the white wines a slight frankincense
Frankincense
Frankincense, also called olibanum , is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra, B. carteri, B. thurifera, B. frereana, and B. bhaw-dajiana...

 aroma, much like Vinsanto. It is not easy to be a winegrower in Santorini; the hot and dry conditions give the soil a very low productivity. The yield per acre is only 10 to 20% of the yields that are common in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 or California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. The island's wines are standardised and protected by the "Vinsanto" and "Santorini" OPAP designations of origin.

Agriculture

Due to its unique ecology and climate, and especially its volcanic ash soil, Santorini is home to unique and prized produce. The Santorini tomatoes
Santorini (tomato)
The Santorini is a cherry tomato native to Santorini, Greece.-History:An abbot from the monastery Kapoutsinon brought the first Santorini cherry tomatoes to Greece in 1818. The variety of tomato began to be regularly cultivated in 1875. By the 1900s, 20 000 acres of tomato were regularly being...

 are renowned; they are cherry tomato
Cherry tomato
A cherry tomato is a small variety of tomato that has been cultivated since at least the early 1800s and thought to have originated in Peru and Northern Chile. Cherry tomatoes range in size from a thumbtip up to the size of a golf ball, and can range from being spherical to slightly oblong in shape...

es that are extremely flavorful and sweet, and with an intensely red, staining color. Santorini "fava" is a purée made of the hulled, then sun-dried, then boiled legume Lathyrus sativus
Lathyrus sativus
Lathyrus sativus, is a legume commonly grown for human consumption and livestock feed in Asia and East Africa. It is a particularly important crop in areas that are prone to drought and famine, and is thought of as an 'insurance crop' as it produces reliable yields when all other crops...

 - not from the yellow split pea
Split pea
Split peas are the dried, peeled and split seeds of Pisum sativum. In north India, they are generally known as matar ki daal, sometimes used as a cheaper variation for the very popular chhole on stalls offering it. . They come in yellow and green varieties. The peas are round when harvested and dried...

 as in the rest of Greece. The white eggplants of Santorini are very sweet, with very few seeds, and can be eaten raw. The katsoúni is a unique local variety of large cucumber
Cucumber
The cucumber is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae, which includes squash, and in the same genus as the muskmelon. The plant is a creeping vine which bears cylindrical edible fruit when ripe. There are three main varieties of cucumber: "slicing", "pickling", and...

s which, if left unpicked when green, turn yellow and acquire a sweet taste almost indistinguishable from that of melon
Melon
thumb|200px|Various types of melonsThis list of melons includes members of the plant family Cucurbitaceae with edible, fleshy fruit e.g. gourds or cucurbits. The word "melon" can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit...

.

Architecture

The traditional architecture of Santorini is similar to that of the other Cyclades
Cyclades
The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

, with low-lying cubical houses, made of local stone and whitewash
Whitewash
Whitewash, or calcimine, kalsomine, calsomine, or lime paint is a very low-cost type of paint made from slaked lime and chalk . Various other additives are also used...

ed or limewashed with various volcanic ashes used as colors. The unique characteristic is the common utilisation of the hypóskapha: extensions of houses dug sideways or downwards into the surrounding pumice
Pumice
Pumice is a textural term for a volcanic rock that is a solidified frothy lava typically created when super-heated, highly pressurized rock is violently ejected from a volcano. It can be formed when lava and water are mixed. This unusual formation is due to the simultaneous actions of rapid...

. These rooms are prized because of the high insulation provided by the air-filled pumice, and are used as living quarters of unique coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter, and also as premium storage space for produce and especially for wine cellaring: the Kánava wineries of Santorini.

Airport

Santorini is one of the few Cyclades
Cyclades
The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

 Islands with a major airport. It is about 6 km southeast of downtown Thera. The main asphalt runway (16L-34R) is 2,125 meters (6,972 feet) in length. The parallel taxiway was built to runway specification (16R-34L). It can accommodate Boeing 757
Boeing 757
The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body twin-engine jet airliner manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Passenger versions of the twinjet have a capacity of 186 to 289 persons and a maximum range of , depending on variant and cabin configuration...

, Boeing 737
Boeing 737
The Boeing 737 is a short- to medium-range, twin-engine narrow-body jet airliner. Originally developed as a shorter, lower-cost twin-engine airliner derived from Boeing's 707 and 727, the 737 has developed into a family of nine passenger models with a capacity of 85 to 215 passengers...

, Airbus 320 series, Avro RJ, Fokker 70, and ATR 72
ATR 72
The ATR 72 is a twin-engine turboprop short-haul regional airliner built by the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR. ATR and Airbus are both built in Toulouse, and share resources and technology...

. Scheduled airlines include the new Olympic Air
Olympic Air
Olympic Air is the largest Greek airline by destinations served, formed from the privatisation of the former national carrier Olympic Airlines. Olympic Air commenced limited operations on 29 September 2009, after Olympic Airlines ceased all operations, with the official full-scale opening of the...

, Aegean Airlines
Aegean Airlines
Aegean Airlines S.A. is the largest Greek airline by total number of passengers carried. A Star Alliance member since June 2010, it operates scheduled and charter services from Athens and Thessaloniki to other major Greek destinations as well as to a number of European destinations...

 and Athens Airways
Athens Airways
Athens Airways was a Greek regional airline, headquartered in Koropi, Athens. The airline used to connect Alexandroupoli, Athens and Thessaloniki with some Greek islands, as well offering chartered flights...

, with chartered flights from other airlines during the summer. Transportation to and from the air terminal is through buses, taxis, hotel car-pickups and rental cars.

Recent volcanism


In 1707 an undersea volcano breached the sea surface, forming the current centre of activity at Nea Kameni in the centre of the lagoon, and eruptions centred on it continue — the twentieth century saw three such, the last in 1950. Santorini was also struck by a devastating earthquake in 1956. Although the volcano is quiescent at the present time, at the current active crater (there are several former craters on Nea Kameni), steam and sulphur dioxide are given off.

Santorini has erupted many times, with varying degrees of explosivity. There have been at least twelve large explosive eruptions, of which at least four were caldera
Caldera
A caldera is a cauldron-like volcanic feature usually formed by the collapse of land following a volcanic eruption, such as the one at Yellowstone National Park in the US. They are sometimes confused with volcanic craters...

-forming. The most famous eruption is the Minoan eruption, detailed below. Eruptive products range from basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 all the way to rhyolite
Rhyolite
This page is about a volcanic rock. For the ghost town see Rhyolite, Nevada, and for the satellite system, see Rhyolite/Aquacade.Rhyolite is an igneous, volcanic rock, of felsic composition . It may have any texture from glassy to aphanitic to porphyritic...

, and the rhyolitic products are associated with the most explosive eruptions.

The earliest eruptions, many of which were submarine, were on the Akrotiri Peninsula, and active between 650,000 and 550,000 years ago. These are geochemically
Geochemistry
The field of geochemistry involves study of the chemical composition of the Earth and other planets, chemical processes and reactions that govern the composition of rocks, water, and soils, and the cycles of matter and energy that transport the Earth's chemical components in time and space, and...

 distinct from the later volcanism, as they contain amphibole
Amphibole
Amphibole is the name of an important group of generally dark-colored rock-forming inosilicate minerals, composed of double chain tetrahedra, linked at the vertices and generally containing ions of iron and/or magnesium in their structures.-Mineralogy:...

s.

Over the past 360,000 years there have been two major cycles, each culminating with two caldera-forming eruptions. The cycles end when the magma evolves to a rhyolitic composition, causing the most explosive eruptions. In between the caldera-forming eruptions are a series of sub-cycles. Lava flows and small explosive eruptions build up cones
Volcanic cone
Volcanic cones are among the simplest volcanic formations. They are built by ejecta from a volcanic vent, piling up around the vent in the shape of a cone with a central crater. Volcanic cones are of different types, depending upon the nature and size of the fragments ejected during the eruption...

, which are thought to impede the flow of magma to the surface. This allows the formation of large magma chambers, in which the magma can evolve to more silicic
Silicic
Silicic is a term used to describe magma or igneous rock rich in silica. The amount of silica that constitutes a silicic rock is usually put at at least 65 percent. Granite and rhyolite are typical silicic rocks....

 compositions. Once this happens, a large explosive eruption destroys the cone. The Kameni islands in the centre of the lagoon are the most recent example of a cone built by this volcano, with much of them hidden beneath the water.

Physical eruption

The devastating volcanic eruption of Thera has become the most famous single event in the Aegean before the fall of Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

. It may have been one of the largest volcanic eruptions on Earth in the last few thousand years, with an estimated 7 on the VEI (volcanic explosivity index
Volcanic Explosivity Index
The Volcanic Explosivity Index was devised by Chris Newhall of the U.S. Geological Survey and Stephen Self at the University of Hawaii in 1982 to provide a relative measure of the explosiveness of volcanic eruptions....

).
The violent eruption was centered on a small island just north of the existing island of Nea Kameni in the centre of the caldera; the caldera itself was formed several hundred thousand years ago by the collapse of the centre of a circular island, caused by the emptying of the magma chamber during an eruption. It has been filled several times by ignimbrite
Ignimbrite
An ignimbrite is the deposit of a pyroclastic density current, or pyroclastic flow, a hot suspension of particles and gases that flows rapidly from a volcano, driven by a greater density than the surrounding atmosphere....

 since then, and the process repeated itself, most recently 21,000 years ago. The northern part of the caldera was refilled by the volcano, then collapsing once more during the Minoan eruption. Before the Minoan eruption, the caldera formed a nearly continuous ring with the only entrance between the tiny island of Aspronisi and Thera; the eruption destroyed the sections of the ring between Aspronisi and Therasia, and between Therasia and Thera, creating two new channels.

On Santorini, a deposit of white tephra
Tephra
200px|thumb|right|Tephra horizons in south-central [[Iceland]]. The thick and light coloured layer at center of the photo is [[rhyolitic]] tephra from [[Hekla]]....

 thrown from the eruption is found lying up to 60 m (196.9 ft) thick, overlying the soil marking the ground level before the eruption, and forming a layer divided into three fairly distinct bands indicating different phases of the eruption. New archaeological discoveries by a team of international scientists, in 2006, have revealed that the Santorini event was much more massive than previously thought; it expelled 61 cubic kilometres (14.6 cu mi) of magma and rock into the Earth's atmosphere, compared to previous estimates of only 39 cubic kilometres (9.4 cu mi) in 1991, producing an estimated 100 cubic kilometres (24 cu mi) of tephra. Only the Mount Tambora
Mount Tambora
Mount Tambora is an active stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia. Sumbawa is flanked both to the north and south by oceanic crust, and Tambora was formed by the active subduction zone beneath it. This raised Mount Tambora as high as , making it...

 volcanic eruption of 1815, the 181 AD eruption
Hatepe eruption
The Hatepe eruption around the year 180 CE was Lake Taupo's most recent major eruption, and New Zealand's largest eruption during the last 20,000 years. It ejected some of material , of which was ejected in the space of a few minutes...

 of Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo
Lake Taupo is a lake situated in the North Island of New Zealand. With a surface area of , it is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, and the second largest freshwater lake by surface area in geopolitical Oceania after Lake Murray ....

, and possibly Baekdu Mountain
Baekdu Mountain
Baekdu Mountain, also known in China as Changbai Mountain and Baitou Mountain , is a volcanic mountain on the border between North Korea and China, located at...

's 969 AD eruption released more material into the atmosphere during the past 5,000 years.


Speculation on an Exodus connection



In The Parting of the Sea: How Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Plagues Shaped the Exodus Story, geologist Barbara J. Sivertsen seeks to establish a link between the eruption of Santorini ca. 1628 BC and the Exodus from Egypt in the Bible.

A 2006 documentary film
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

 by Simcha Jacobovici
Simcha Jacobovici
Simcha Jacobovici is a Canadian film director, producer, free-lance journalist, and writer. He is a three-times Emmy winner for Outstanding Investigative Journalism....

, The Exodus Decoded, postulates that the eruption of the Santorini Island volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 (c. 1500 BC, +/-50) caused all the biblical plagues described against Egypt
Plagues of Egypt
The Plagues of Egypt , also called the Ten Plagues or the Biblical Plagues, were ten calamities that, according to the biblical Book of Exodus, Israel's God, Yahweh, inflicted upon Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to release the ill-treated Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh capitulated after the tenth...

, this date also corresponds to the Biblical dating of Moses in Egypt c. 1500 BC +/-50. The film asserts that the Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

 were the Israelites and that some of them may have originally been from Mycenae
Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece was a cultural period of Bronze Age Greece taking its name from the archaeological site of Mycenae in northeastern Argolis, in the Peloponnese of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites...

. The film also asserts that these original Mycenaean Israelites fled Egypt (which they had in fact ruled for some time) after the eruption, back to Mycenae. The pharaoh with whom they identify the Pharaoh of the Exodus is Ahmose I
Ahmose I
Ahmose I was a pharaoh of ancient Egypt and the founder of the Eighteenth dynasty. He was a member of the Theban royal house, the son of pharaoh Tao II Seqenenre and brother of the last pharaoh of the Seventeenth dynasty, King Kamose...

. Rather than crossing the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, Jacobovici argued a marshy area in northern Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 known as the "Reed Sea" would have been alternately drained and flooded by tsunami
Tsunami
A tsunami is a series of water waves caused by the displacement of a large volume of a body of water, typically an ocean or a large lake...

s caused by the caldera collapse, and could have been crossed during the Exodus
Passage of the Red Sea
The Crossing of the Red Sea is a passage in the Biblical narrative of the escape of the Israelites from the pursuing Egyptians in the Book of Exodus . This story is also mentioned in the Qur'an in Surah 26: Al-Shu'ara' in verses 60-67...

.

Jacobovici's assertions in The Exodus Decoded have been extensively criticized by religious scholars.

Speculation on an Atlantis connection

Archaeological, seismological
Seismology
Seismology is the scientific study of earthquakes and the propagation of elastic waves through the Earth or through other planet-like bodies. The field also includes studies of earthquake effects, such as tsunamis as well as diverse seismic sources such as volcanic, tectonic, oceanic,...

, and vulcanological evidence has been presented linking the Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....

 myth to Santorini. Speculation suggesting that Thera/Santorini was the inspiration for Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

's Atlantis began with the excavation of Akrotiri in the 1960s, and gained increased currency as reconstructions of the island's pre-eruption shape and landscape frescos located under the ash both strongly resembled Plato's description. The possibility has been more recently popularized by television documentaries such as: The History Channel
The History Channel
History, formerly known as The History Channel, is an American-based international satellite and cable TV channel that broadcasts a variety of reality shows and documentary programs including those of fictional and non-fictional historical content, together with speculation about the future.-...

 programme Lost Worlds (episode "Atlantis"), the Discovery Channel's
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is an American satellite and cable specialty channel , founded by John Hendricks and distributed by Discovery Communications. It is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav...

 Solving History with Olly Steeds
Solving History with Olly Steeds
Solving History with Olly Steeds is a weekly American documentary adventure reality television series that premiered on January 13, 2010 on the Discovery Channel...

, and the BBC's Atlantis, The Evidence that suggests that Thera is Plato's Atlantis.

Recent eruptions

Post-Minoan eruptive activity is concentrated on the Kameni islands, in the center of the lagoon. They have been formed since the Minoan eruption, and the first of them broke the surface of the sea in 197 BC Nine subaerial eruptions are recorded in the historical record since that time, with the most recent ending in 1950. Since then the volcano has been quiescent.

Further reading

  • Doumas, C. (1983). Thera: Pompeii of the ancient Aegean. London: Thames and Hudson.
  • Pichler, H. and Friedrich, W.L. (1980). "Mechanism of the Minoan eruption of Santorini". Doumas, C. Papers and Proceedings of the Second International Scientific Congress on Thera and the Aegean World II.

External links

  • TheraFoundation.org, The Eruption of Thera: Date and Implications
  • Santorini.gr, Thira (Santorini) Municipality Official WebSite
  • CGS.Illinois.edu , Was the Bronze Age Volcanic Eruption of Thira (Santorini) a Megacatastrophe? A Geological/Archeological Detective Story, Grant Heiken, Independent consultant, author, geologist (retired) Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Los Alamos National Laboratory
    Los Alamos National Laboratory is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory, managed and operated by Los Alamos National Security , located in Los Alamos, New Mexico...

    ; lecture presented at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sponsored by CGS.Illinois.edu, Center for Global Studies and CAS.UIUC.edu, Center for Advanced Study
  • NewAdvent.org, Thera (Santorin) - Catholic Encyclopedia article
  • Volcano.SI.edu, Global Volcanism Program: Santorini
  • URI.edu, Santorini Eruption much larger than previously thought
  • YourGreekNews.com, Professor Doumas of University of Athens Discusses the Archaeological Significance of Thera - Video Interview
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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