Atlantis on Santorini, Greece?

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

Almost every schoolchild has heard the tale if the lost city of Atlantis. Years ahead of later civilizations, the city was purported to have been filled not just with beautiful buildings, but by architecturally advanced ones. According to the ancient stories, they had heating and cooling in the houses that was made possible by hot and cold air run through the pipes they had placed in the walls. By some accounts they even had hot and cold running water.

Red Beach of Akrotiri, Santorini, GreeceIt is also said that as a civilization they were years ahead of us in laws and justice. In addition to their architectural wonders they also had art in the form of beautiful frescos. This was a dream society one that could almost not be believed. Of course no one knows for sure if it really was any of those things, because no one knows for sure if it ever existed at all. According to legend, one day Atlantis was there in all its glory, and then suddenly, it was gone. An enormous cataclysm, an earthquake and a volcanic eruption that caused giant waves, were said to have returned Atlantis to the sea.

There are many theories about where Atlantis was located. One of these is a recently discovered set of buildings buried under ash near the town of Akrotiri, Santorini. Of course recently is a relative term.  In 1860 while quarrying ash for use in the Suez Canalworkers discovered the remains of an ancient town. Unlike Pompeiithere were no signs of people. The buildings looked as if their occupants had left everything neat, so it is thought that they had warning of the coming disaster and were able to escape before it swallowed the town. Perhaps it was from these people that the stories of the mythical Atlantis came.

The volcanic eruption that buried Akrotiri also caused it to be forgotten. Even though it had been discovered by the workers in 1860, it was over a 100 years later in 1967 before a full scale excavation of the site was begun. This was led by Spyridon Marinatos, who was a professor at the University in Athens. The excavations continued until 2005 when a roof that had been built over the structure collapsed. One visitor was killed and several injured which caused the closure of the site and it remains closed until the roof can be repaired. As Greece is the birthplace of modern government it is not surprising there would be quite a few hoops to jump through before the reopening.

Ancient painting Akrotiri, Santorini, GreeceStill, you are not completely robbed of opportunities to see the wonders found at Akrotiri.  Most of the frescos and many items had already been removed to the Archeological Museum of Athens before the collapse and you can still view them there.  In addition, there are other places on the island where the volcano has left it’s mark. In an ironic twist, it is likely the same eruption that buried Akrotiri is also at least partly responsible for the unique beauty of the island and it’s amazing views.

The wonder of the ancient world is not just seen and felt in the ruins of Akritori. The whole island  of Santorini is filled with history both modern and ancient. The past is everywhere on Santorini, it has almost a physical presence. If you listen carefully, you may even hear the voices of the ancient ones in the whispers of the wind.

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

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