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Archaeology / Akrotiri Digs



Santorini Archaeological Sites : Akrotiri Excavations
Akrotiri Excavations & The Wall Paintings of Thera

The excavations at Akrotiri have uncovered one of the most important prehistoric settlements of the Aegean. The first habitation at the site dates from the Late Neolithic times (at least the 4th millennium BC).

During the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC), a sizeable settlement was founded and in the Middle and early Late Bronze Age (ca. 20th-17th centuries BC) it was extended and gradually developed into one of the main urban centers and ports of the Aegean.

The large extent of the settlement (ca. 20 hectares), the elaborate drainage system, the sophisticated multi-storeyed buildings with the magnificent wall-paintings, furniture and vessels, show its great development and prosperity.

The various imported objects found in the buildings indicate the wide network of its external relations. Akrotiri was in contact with Crete but also communicated with the Greek Mainland, the Dodecanese, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt.

The town's life came to an abrupt end in the last quarter of the 17th century BC when the inhabitants were obliged to abandon it as a result of severe earthquakes. The eruption followed. The volcanic materials covered the entire island and the town itself. These materials, however, have protected up to date the buildings and their contents, similar to Pompeii.

Professor Spyridon Marinatos Head Archaeologist

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 Thira volcano was responsible for the collapse of the Minoan civilization. Since his death in 1974, the excavations have been continued under the successful direction of Professor Christos Doumas.

The Most Important Buildings of the Site are :


The Wall Paintings of Thera

Xeste 3
Large edifice, at least two-storeys high, with fourteen rooms on each floor. Some of rooms were connected by multiple doors and decorated with magnificent wall-paintings. In one of them there was a "Lustral basin", which is considered a sacred area. One may conclude that Xeste 3 was used for the performance of some kind of ritual.


The Wall Paintings of Thera

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 Boys. The eastern building yielded the “Fresco of the Monkeys”, a composition of monkeys climbing on rocks at the side of a river.



The Wall Paintings of Thera

House of the Ladies
The large two-storeyed building was named after the fresco with the Ladies and the Papyrus(Cyperus Papyrus), which decorated the interior. The most interesting architectural feature of the building is a light-well constructed at its center.

The Wall Paintings of Thera

The West House
A relatively small, but well-organized building. On the ground floor there are storerooms, workshops, a kitchen and a mill-installation. The first floor is occupied by a spacious chamber used for weaving activities, a room for the storage mainly of clay vessels, a lavatory and two rooms, the one next to the other, embellished with magnificent murals. The first was decorated with the two frescoes of the Fishermen, the fresco of the Young Priestess and the famous Flotilla miniature frieze. The latter ran around all the four walls and depicted a major overseas voyage, in the course of which, the fleet visited several harbours and towns.


The Wall Paintings of Thera

Xeste 4
A magnificent three-storeyed building, the largest has been excavated up to now. All its facades are reverted 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.


The Wall Paintings of Thera

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. Tablets of the Linear A script have recently been found in the same building. All four buildings yielded interesting finds such as abundant imported pottery and precious stone and bronze objects.

POSTPONEMENT
The Archaeological Site of Akrotiri will be open to visitors from 10:00 to 17:00.
Akrotiri Excavations Tel : +30 22860 81366

 
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