A culture shaped by natural disasters

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Posted by Greeka.com on 16 Jan 2007

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Contrary to what opinion one might hold of ancient civilizations, one branch of the Aegean was well equipped to fight natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The island of Thera (present day Santorini) bears much evidence ton this fact. These discoveries were presented to the Archaeological Society last Thursday by Professor Christos Doumas, who is directing the Akrotiri excavations.

"The volcano of Thera was a permanent challenge to local residents, to which they came up with various responses", he said, adding that the different levels of destruction caused by earthquakes of varying intensity are visible upon examination. He also stated that their reactions to such events were well-organized and coordinated, like a fire drill.

The end of a tremor was followed by the act of salvaging all possible domestic commodities like beds, food and even a jar of fish has been found. They didn't consider deserting their island, even if it did flatten their houses from time to time. In fact, they recycled usable materials from their destroyed homes to build new houses

Evidence of such reconstruction having been practiced since the 18th century BC showed that they were people who rebuilt their houses while seeking ways and means, if not to neutralize the earthquakes, then at least to improve the resistance of their buildings.

Geological surveys have shown a caldera with water in it at the island's center with a single outlet to the sea. "This means that the early inhabitants had access to both the lava which it was made of and to the interior of the caldera. So the volcanic stones were almost the sole raw material both for building houses and making vessels and tools". Doumas said. Malleable lava from Mavro Rachidi and Mesovouna was used to build the first huts and objects such as pestles and mortars.

Doumas noted that the Santorini volcano is an abundant source of material and intellectual culture. He recalled how the volcano supplied stone and other construction material which supported the building of the Suez Canal. Not only was volcanic rock used for construction by the locals, it also contributed to the local flavor of the wine. In all, Doumas presented the revelations as a commendat.

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