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Akrotiri, the Minoan “Pompeii” - buried by the eruption of Thera (twice the size of Krakatoa!)

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posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 07:32 PM
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G’day ATS!

I’m quite excited about bringing this to you, since I hadn’t heard of it before. I hope you haven’t either so that we can all learn something new together!

Akrotiri is the Greek version of Pompeii, which we all know was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD79. I believe Akrotiri to be more exciting than its Roman cousin, perhaps not in size or fame but definitely for the age of the town, the beauty of some of the finds and the violence of the volcanic eruption! I will obviously provide details of all this to you later.



The site was uncovered during construction of the Suez Canal in 1860. Accidently, as so many archaeological finds are! The ash from the island of Santorini was being quarried and purely by chance the workers stumbled across this amazing place.

Due to this Akrotiri is sometimes referred to as the “Minoan Pompeii”.


Some speculate that Akrotiri could be the lost city of Atlantis. However, it's widely accepted that Akrotiri was part of the Minoan civilization of Crete centred at Knossos. Akrotiri also had trade connections with the Greek mainland, Cyprus, Syria, Egypt, and the other islands in the area known as the Dodecanese


From the many Frescoes depicting busy harbour scenes at Akrotiri, the size and complexity of the buildings and the finds revealed, it can be safely said that this port was an extremely busy and prosperous one.

There was a settlement on the site from at least 3,000BC, although evidence of occupation dating as far back as the late Neolithic (4,000BC) has been recovered from the site, the town itself wasn’t buried until 1450 BC, which makes the site a lot older than Pompeii (as you recall one of the reasons I rate Akrotiri so much!)


THE MINOANS, a brief introduction


It wouldn’t be fair to just launch into the good stuff without a little background to these amazing people, but I’ll keep it brief (nobody reads this part anyway!).

THE MINOANS, the palace civilisation of the Aegean


The story of European civilization really begins on the island of Crete with a civilization that probably thought of itself as Asian (in fact, Crete is closer to Asia than it is to Europe). Around 1700 BC, a highly sophisticated culture grew up around palace centres on Crete: the Minoans. What they thought, what stories they told, how they narrated their history, are all lost to us. All we have left are their palaces, their incredibly developed visual culture, and their records. Mountains of records. For the Minoans produced a singular civilization in antiquity: one oriented around trade and bureaucracy with little or no evidence of a military state. They built perhaps the single most efficient bureaucracy in antiquity. This unique culture, of course, lasted only a few centuries, and European civilization shifts to Europe itself with the foundation of the military city-states on the mainland of Greece.
Richard Hooker

You must admit that they sound like a civilised, enlightened and advanced society.

Using Google Earth let me show you where in the Mediterranean this island is located.



A map of Ancient Greece and the Island of Thera with respect to other Greek Islands can be found HERE.


Santorini is a small, circular archipelago of volcanic islands located in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km (120 mi) southeast from Greece's mainland. The largest island is known as Thēra (or Thira, Greek forming the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands


For those interested in further information regarding the Minoans, here are some links:

THE LAND

THE HISTORY OF THE MINOANS

MINOAN RELIGION

WOMEN IN THE MINOAN CULTURE


EARTHQUAKES, EVACUATION & ERUPTION of THERA


Archaeologists suspected that the town had been evacuated well before the volcanic eruption buried it. Why? Firstly, unlike Pompeii there was distinct a lack of human remains, secondly archaeologists found numerous examples of damaged buildings determined to be unrelated to the “final” eruption.

STEPS SHOWING EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE




Copious evidence for the purposeful demolition by wrecking crews of buildings partially destroyed in the earthquake has been found in the form of piles of rubble and earth debris heaped up in the principal roads leading through the settlement and retained behind roughly built dry-stone walls of rubble.


Theories on the time between the last earthquake and eventual evacuation vary, from a mere three months to three decades. What is known for definite is the town was built in a very unstable area, by the time it was buried under ash and lava, the locals had taken the hint and moved on.


The process of rebuilding and restoration begun shortly after the earthquake was nevertheless still in progress when the volcano erupted, as the partially plastered and painted condition of the second-storey bedroom in the West House indicates. Two vessels full of dried plaster and a third containing dried paint show that this room was actually in the process of being decorated when the site was hastily abandoned, this time for good.


STONE FLOOR SHOWING EARTHQUAKE DAMAGE



The site at Akrotiri has yielded just a single item of precious metal, indeed there is an obvious lack of materially valuable goods which further points to an extensive evacuation effort on behalf of the Minoans inhabiting the town.

GOLD IBEX (the only precious metal find)



CONTINUED



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posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 07:33 PM
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The Eruption of Thera!

Thera Eruption Was Bigger Still – BBC News


The second largest volcanic eruption in human history was much larger than previously thought, scientists say.

The Bronze Age eruption of Thera near mainland Greece would have devastated ancient civilisations in the region.

Ash would likely have plunged much of the Mediterranean into darkness, and tsunami would have wrecked local ports.

A survey around what is now the island arc of Santorini shows volcanic pumice to a depth of 80m covering the ocean floor for 20-30km in all directions.

By examining echoes from volcanic deposits on the ocean floor, researchers have shown that the Aegean eruption of Thera 3,600 years ago may have propelled 60 cubic km of magma out of the volcano's crater.


Well I did tell you the story of Akrotiri was more fascinating than Pompeii!! The second largest eruption in history. In a way it’s sad to think that even though the population of Akrotiri managed to leave their town successfully, I doubt they actually survived, the eruption being as large as it was.


The eruption dwarfs even that of Krakatoa, which ejected about 25 cubic km of molten rock, ash and pumice in 1883, killing 40,000 inhabitants of Java and Sumatra in just a few hours.


Please go to the BBC article for the entire story of this HUGE eruption that buried Santorini and our site.


THE EXCAVATION AND AKROTIRI’S WONDERFUL FINDS


Around 40 buildings have been uncovered so far, however the town is believed to be as large as 20 Hectares, more of a city than a town (for the Bronze Age!). Six of the uncovered structures have been excavated extensively revealing amazing finds.

A plan of the site can be viewed HERE (It’s too large to post!)


Evidence of habitation at Akrotiri first came to light in the second half of the 19th century. However, systematic excavations were begun much later, in 1967, by Professor Spyridon Marinatos under the auspices of the Archaeological Society at Athens. He decided to excavate at Akrotiri in the hope of verifying an old theory of his, published in the 1930's, that the eruption of the Thera volcano was responsible for the collapse of the Minoan civilization. Since his death in 1974, the excavations have been continued under the direction of Professor Christos Doumas.


The six buildings uncovered to a greater extent are (please follow the link for a more in-depth description)::

XESTE 3




Two-storey high buildings with 14 rooms on each floor where the wall paintings “Altar” and “Saffron Gatherers” were found.



SECTOR B


possibly comprises two separate buildings, the one attached to the other. From the first floor of the western building, came the famous wall paintings of the Antelopes and the Boxing Children.


THE WEST HOUSE




The West House is a small, but well organized building. The rooms include storage rooms, a spacious room for weaving, a kitchen and mill, a room for storing clay pots, and a lavatory. The walls in the rooms were decorated with well preserved murals.

COMPLEX DELTA


Complex Delta includes four houses. A room of the eastern building is decorated with the Spring fresco: the artist represented with special sensitivity a rocky landscape, planted with blossoming lilies, between which swallows fly in a variety of positions.




THE HOUSE OF THE LADIES


House of the Ladies. The large, two-storied building was named after the fresco with the Ladies and the Papyruses, which decorated the interior. The most interesting architectural feature of the building is a light-well constructed at its centre.


Last but not least:

XESTE 4.


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


Here are some further images of the dig and buildings.









I’ve found a cool interactive QTVR panorama image.
It requires Quick Time but is a great way to view part of the site:

AKROTIRI QTVR


CONTINUED


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posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 07:34 PM
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As I mentioned earlier, some great artefacts have been uncovered, but surprisingly the real treasures are not of precious metal.

However let me show you some of the more traditional finds we associate with archaeological digs:

Three images of Minoan Ceramics from Akrotiri


Bronze Age Toilet!
Beautiful Minoan Painted Ceramics
Close up of Bronze Age bed/cot
Wooden bed, notice the murals on the wall behind
Bronze Age Bathtub
Firedogs
More Ceramic Pots in Situ


Although the real treasure discovered under the volcanic ash and rock, is……..

The Santorini Frescoes


Most of the Santorini wall paintings were discovered by 1974.

In matters of detail the paintings have been provided totally unexpected information. Assuming that specific depictions reflect real life forms in Aegean World, we find amazing evidence for ships, their size and constructions, for urban architecture, for the richness of dress and jewellery, and for the natural environment of plants and animals.

The pigments used by Theran painters were mineral. Apart from the white of the lime plaster red was obtained from ferrous earths and haematite, and yellow from yellow ochre. Black also seems to be of mineral provenance.


There is an virtual exhibition of the best of the Frescoes HERE, but I’ll post a few so you can see the real beauty and skill of the artists that painted them 3,500 years ago! The detail and colour in them is a very good indication to the high status of the port and town and gives an intriguing glimpse of Minoan life which is priceless.















Well ATS, I really hope you found this thread, the story of Akrotiri, its life and eventual destruction interesting. I hadn’t heard of the MASSIVE Thera eruption, nor of this buried treasure trove before, so for me it’s a real eye opener.

All the best ATS! KF



SOURCES

Wikipedia
The Thera Foundation
The Minoan Pompeii
The Archaeological Site of Akrotiri
Santorini Frescoes




posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 07:56 PM
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Hey what a great and amazing find. Thats a S& F from me great work Kiwifoot.
This culture and its interesting way of life seems to have slipped under the radar of understanding etc.



posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 08:05 PM
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Great article. I was there in 1982. Fantastic place. I would love to go back one day. The fact that no bodies were discovered means that they all left and were alive to tell the story. I believe it is the lost City of Atlantis and I also think the collapse of Santorini and resulting Tsunami wave hit the north shore of Egypt at the time of the Exodus (3-4,500BC) resulting in the parting of the Red Sea story...
One thing that still sticks in my mind was I was looking at one of the support poles holding up the roof (it was the largest covered dig at the time - I don't know if it still is) and what I noticed was that the beam actually resting on what appeared to be cut stones or pavers. What shocked me was that those pavers stones were about 4-5 feet BELOW the current city! Tey wern't thrown in the hole to support the beam but were buried by the surrounding dirt cleared out when the were putting up the cover. There is a city below Akrotiri that will probably never be excavated...



posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 08:25 PM
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A gave you my first star, though I have a couple gripes. First, nobody in the Mediterranean region ever considered themselves to be Asians. Turkey is in Asia Minor, not Asia, and even that distinction is a recent one. Second, though they relied on trade instead of military conquest to obtain wealth, the Minoans did have a powerful navy, including warships.

And as a side note, the eruption seems to coincide with the Exodus story, leading many researches to speculate those biblical events were natural and not divine. Ash clouds would have blanket the rivers and fields killing fish and crops. Fleeing and dying animals might cause plagues of frogs and insects. Even the "parting" of the Sea of Reeds could be a result of water receding before a tidal wave hit.



posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 08:31 PM
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Originally posted by wrkn4livn
... I also think the collapse of Santorini and resulting Tsunami wave hit the north shore of Egypt at the time of the Exodus (3-4,500BC) resulting in the parting of the Red Sea story...


wrkn4livn beat me to it
though i think 1446 B.C. is closer to the actual date and the "Red Sea" is a mistranslation of the Sea of Reeds.



posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 08:32 PM
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Excellent work Kiwifoot!

Took me a while to read through it all but an excellent report detailing a very advanced civilization for it's time (although they all appear that way he know we get to know them). I was particularly impressed with the gold bull statue.

A bull was supposedly given to Minos (the rules of the Minoan empire) by Poseidon to be sacrificed to him. Minos kept the bull instead and as a curse Poseidon made his wife, Pasiphae I think, fall in love with the bull and bear him a child - The Minotaur.

Minos' son, whose name escapes me was sent off on an adventure to Athens and whilst there received an adventure from the King to kill a dangerous bull. He was killed himself instead - by way of retribution Minos invaded Athens and conquered it. Giving it back on the provision that Athens send a group of young people every so often to Crete to be eaten by the Minotaur in it's specially constructed 'Labyrinth'.

It must have been a strong empire indeed to have sacked Athens and whilst there is more bull imagery in Minoan history for the the Minotaur one is by far my favourite.

Star and Flag for sure - Wish I could give more!

Loved your piece there.

-m0r



posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 09:13 PM
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S & F for the thread really interesting !

Something else caught my eye.

Did you just wrote the volcano blew about 3600 years ago ?




By examining echoes from volcanic deposits on the ocean floor, researchers have shown that the Aegean eruption of Thera 3,600 years ago may have propelled 60 cubic km of magma out of the volcano's crater.



posted on Feb, 28 2010 @ 10:19 PM
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There was a time that our culture of the west could have been based on Minoan culture instead of Greek culture. I think this is wonderful, I knew about the Minoans for some years and they where an advanced culture both culturally, political and in art.



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 12:20 AM
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S & F

An absolutely awesome read.
I'm amazed on how well preserved a lot of the artifacts are.

reply to post by Sinter Klaas
 


That too caught my attention. Makes me wonder.



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 12:57 AM
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3600 years ago? Well if that created a massive tsunami that rippled across the Mediterranean, maybe that's where all the flooding mythology came from.

Excellent post!



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 01:00 AM
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Outstanding, top-quality presentation!
Thanks for putting in the time and energy to collect some great information and photos.

I had read about Akrotiri a bit before, but I had never seen the examples of art and architecture you posted. A very interesting culture, indeed, and it sounds like there is much more for us to learn about them.



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 01:49 AM
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Excellent Post... the paintings look so modern. As we uncover more and more we may come to find out the people of the past were far more advanced that we have dreamed.



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 02:07 AM
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Amazing post my man...

From all Greeks with love, great post.


I knew about Akrotiri, but didnt realize the eruption was this massive.




posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 03:42 AM
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Excellent OP Kiwi S+F

Well laid out, informative and interesting.

I wonder as they all seemed to flee the area before the final eruption, if they managed to settle anywhere else, or did not get far enough away in time.

Intriguing.

Thanks.

Elf.



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 04:04 AM
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reply to post by kiwifoot
 


This was a well put together thread, thanks for sharing - it's all new to me. Not to mention it's intriguing and very interesting. S&F.



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 04:05 AM
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Thanks Kiwi, for that post. S&F.
It was a very interesting read and an amazing discovery.

The art seems to fascinate me the most here.

I do wonder as Elf has mentioned, if these civillians fled or somehow survived the eruption. Also, if there are any other civillisations hidden underneath wreckages like this one.



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 04:55 AM
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Originally posted by harrytuttle
3600 years ago? Well if that created a massive tsunami that rippled across the Mediterranean, maybe that's where all the flooding mythology came from.

Excellent post!


Indeed that was one of the first thoughts to cross me.

A very interesting find Kiwi SnF! I'm pretty sure it's things like these that prompt archeologists to search in areas that harbor potential natural disasters.



posted on Mar, 1 2010 @ 04:58 AM
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Thank you for this great info and pics. I find it amazing how well preserved these places are. I hope some day I get to see one of these sites.

Makes you also realise that some day, we shall have these massive events again.





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