Ka-bang! Gone from existence!

3,500 years ago there was a small unique island in the Greek Cyclades, with a thriving metropolis, strong trade and a thalassocracy, naval supremacy. Then in a single day and night, there was a mighty eruption, the largest and most destructive in the world’s history. Even to this day, no other eruption has come close to the cataclysm that wiped out this ancient civilisation. I know many of you will say it didn’t completely destroy the people and you are right. However, this culture never regained its former glory, over run by invading forces and soon melted away into non-existence until Sir Arthur Evans brought it back to life.

Nea Kameni see from Thera, Santorini Photo by Bernard Gagnon, Wikipedia

Nea Kameni see from Thera, Santorini
Photo by Bernard Gagnon, Wikipedia

Thira/Thera known to us all as Santorini, is today a tourist magnet. The beautiful island with its unusual formation, sheer cliffs and white washed buildings with blue doors has an ominous and living creature. Just in the Greek mythologies, this dark monster smoulders beneath the Mediterranean blue sea, ready to emerge and wreak destruction. Its growing in strength and its blackened skin lurks as a chilling reminder of the power it holds. Yellow sludge oozes from its pores, smelling of rotten eggs, the discharge discolouring the water in its circumference. Yet intrepid tourists, like the heroes of Ancient Greece, scale its hind seeking and hoping to find answers.

Nea Kameni (new island) is still an active volcano and monitored daily. It is highly probable it will erupt again and with the same force which happened in 1650BCE. For over 2,000 years, there have been repeated eruptions of lava and ash, hence the growing island and its smaller counterpart, Palea Kameni (old island). The sulphuric waters of Nea Kameni have healing properties, and attracts many visitors. The caldera, the body of water surrounding the island, was created following the eruption. Prior to the volcano going nuclear, the island was attached to the mainland of Santorini and stuck out like a promontory.

The volcanic crater of Nea Kameni Photo by Tango7174, Wikipedia

The volcanic crater of Nea Kameni
Photo by Tango7174, Wikipedia

Santorini has been occupied since 5,000 BCE, the early inhabitants lived in fishing villages and farming communities. Archaeologists have found pottery, stone vases and figurines as well as burial chambers cut from the rock dating to 3,000 BCE. They traded with nearby islands, Paros and Naxos, exchanging Thiran pumice stone for marble. The position of the island made Thira major trade route between the isles, in particular copper. The ancient settlement of Akrotiri became a centre of metal work, where moulds and vessels have been found.

Akrotiri flourished and grew into a prosperous city with paved streets and a drainage system that would not be out of place in our modern world. Homes had toilets, not like we know them, but a repository and separate pipes to take away the effluence. They even had hot and cold water! Then it came to an end. Santorini sits on a seismic fault line, and preceding the massive eruption, experienced a series of earthquakes which the ancient Thirans repaired and rebuilt Akrotiri.

Archaeological site of Akrotiri Photo by Norbert Nagel, Wikipedia

Archaeological site of Akrotiri
Photo by Norbert Nagel, Wikipedia

Akrotiri was buried under volcanic ash and layered with lava making it one of the best preserved ancient settlements. So well preserved, archaeologists were able to make castings of wooden furniture. Due to the absence of bodies at Akrotiri, unlike its counterpart, Pompeii, experts believe the residents abandoned the town before the massive eruption. It wasn’t until 1967, when archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos began excavations. In the 1930’s he published a paper and believed the eruption of Thira was responsible for the demise of the Minoan civilisation.

Plan of Akrotiri by Maximilian Dörrbecker  http://www.ancient.eu/thera/

Plan of Akrotiri by Maximilian Dörrbecker
http://www.ancient.eu/thera/

Could Akrotiri be the source of Plato’s story of Atlantis? Let’s list the possible tie-ins:
1. Thira was an island with concentric circles of water surrounding land, as was Atlantis
2. Thira was an thalassocracy, as was Atlantis
3. The Thirans were renowned for their skills in arts, craft and metals, as was the Atlanteans
4. The people of Thira and their settlement were sophisticated, so too were the Atlanteans
5. Both islands were destroyed by a cataclysmic event
6. Both were trading powers
If you can think of more connections please let me know.

Thank you for visiting and reading.

As always, your comments are valued and welcomed.

Historical fiction fantasist Luciana Cavallaro, a secondary teacher, meanders from contemporary life to delve into the realms of mythology. Subscribe to her FREE short story http://eepurl.com/bhESs1

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Sources:
Santorini Archaeological Sites: Akrotiri Excavations, Santorni.com
Santorini (Thera) Volcano, http://www.photovolcanica.com
Thera, Ancient History Encyclopedia

17 thoughts on “Ka-bang! Gone from existence!

  1. How interesting it is to see earth’s evolution as a series of cataclysmic changes wrought by floods, volcanic eruptions and tectonic shiftings… Equally so are fascinating glimpses tracing hoary past of a tiny island like Santorini, connecting a host of keenly interested minds and yours truly with you the charming purveyor, Luc…may the journey continue to open new vistas…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Raj,
      It is astonishing when looking back in history how much natural disasters have impacted the growth of civilisation. It also shows the similarities between cultures in their progress.
      Thank you for your kind comment 😀
      regards, Luciana

      Like

  2. Great post, Luciana.

    Santorini is a fantastic place to visit and is quite unlike anywhere else on Earth. I’ve been a couple times and have walked on the volcano where the steam finds its way out of the ground. It is an awe-inspiring experience walking there, as a little disconcerting as well. The main town of Thira looks so precarious from there too.

    I was blown away (no pun intended) when I went to Akrotiri and saw the streets, and two and three storey apartment buildings. I had thought it amazing that such things existed in ancient Rome, but Akrotiri was thriving before Rome was anything more than a couple of huts. Amazing stuff! Cheers

    Adam

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Adam.
      I love Santorini, unfortunately I wasn’t able to visit Akrotiri but I plan on doing so in the near future. I have been to Knossos and that I have to say was incredible. Overwhelming too to be amongst ruins that are now 5000 years old!
      Amazing stuff indeed!
      😀 Luciana

      Like

  3. I would say that, according to your own statements, the possibility of Akrotiri being Plato´s Atlantis is more than a simple hypothetical idea, cara Luciana.
    A great post, very interesting and truly well documented as always.
    All my best wishes and thanks for sharing. Aquileana ⭐

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mille grazie cara Aquileana. I daresay a large proportion of his Atlantis legend would be based on the eruption of Thera and Akrotiri.

      Like

  4. Reblogged this on Apollo's Raven and commented:
    This is a fascinating Post by Luciana Cavallero on her Website ETERNAL ATLANTIS which discusses the potential theories of where the lost city of Atlantis was located. Enjoy!

    3,500 years ago there was a small unique island in the Greek Cyclades, with a thriving metropolis, strong trade and a thalassocracy, naval supremacy. Then in a single day and night, there was a mighty eruption, the largest and most destructive in the world’s history. Even to this day, no other eruption has come close to the cataclysm that wiped out this ancient civilisation.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Luciana,

    I’m fascinated with your series on the last civilization of Atlantis. The possibility that Akrotiri was Plato’s Atlantis seems to be one of the best theories of why this civilization was destroyed. You might want to check out the following blog by Rita Roberts, an archaeologist who has worked at this site. She has some fascinating archaeological tidbits which you might find interesting. She has also been involved in British excavation sites https://ritaroberts.wordpress.com/author/ritaroberts/

    Thank you for sharing your well-researched and fascinating post. Have a great weekend!

    Best wishes,
    Linnea

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Linnea,
      The legend of Atlantis has fascinated me for a long time and it seems probable Thera was the basis of Plato’s Atlantis. I do follow Rita’s blog and will check out the link 😀
      Thank you dear friend and you have a great weekend as well.
      cheers
      Luciana

      Liked by 1 person

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