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The Excavation of Akrotiri

In the southwest, there is the most important archaeological site of Santorini: the Greek Pompeii. It was first considered in 1867, when the French geologist Ferdinand Fouqué found prehistoric remains of a wall. Only a few years afterwards, other French geologists and the German Robert Zahn made more but piecemeal discoveries. Almost a hundred years had to pass until the sensational discovery of the wondrously conserved buildings, because spectacular discoveries at Crete distracted the scientists’ interest in Santorini. Since any human remains, jewellery and other articles of value are missing, it is assumed that the inhabitants were able to seek shelter on time before the eruption.

Akrotiri Akrotiri Akrotiri

During the excavation works, led by Professor Spyridon Marinatos, entire streets of houses and rooms were uncovered. It was also Marinatos who found the „Saffron-Gatherers“ Fresco, an artefact claiming international attention. Professor Marinatos died on October 1, 1974, hit by a collapsing wall. A memorial at the accident side recalls the famous archaeologist. Works are continued up to today by Marinatos’ former assistant, Professor Christos Doumas.

The excavation area is about 10,000 m2 and is protected against weather by a roofing. Light conditions are not very good, so photographers should take along high quality equipment – they are not allowed to use flash. A loop way for visitors leads through two lanes, passing by formerly multi-level buildings, their façades partly being preserved as they once were. Various findings of articles of daily use reflect their former owners’ wealth. A reconstruction of several tools, jars or even wooden furniture has been possible by filling in the marks in the ash with plaster. Timber frames, strung with cords, are among Europe’s oldest beds. There are also marks of big bound baskets and meadows.

Akrotiri Akrotiri Akrotiri

The area is divided into four sectors: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. The loop way starts in the southern part, leading to the southern building, passing by the Delta complex, the biggest building, the West House and the Anchor House. In the northern part, the women’s rooms can be found. Frescoes have been found in the West House as well as in the buildings Xeste 3 and Xeste 4.

A tragical accident has ocurred in 2005; in consequence, the excavation site has not yet been opened to public again.

Frescoes of Akrotiri

Sculptures of Akrotiri

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