Tourism could destroy tradition and environment

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Category: News

Posted by on 13 May 2006

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A puzzling fact is that during the Bronze Age, the delectable wine of Thera was produced only for export. This has many historians questioning the lifestyle of the Therans. Did they not partake any of the wine for their personal enjoyment? Over the years thousands of drinking vessels have been found at Akrotiri Santorini, in every home, each varying in size and shapes. The further discovery of numerous jugs, glasses and cups indicates that domestic consumption did exist.

One of the recent finds includes a jug, dated to sometime in the Middle Bronze Age, around 18th century BC, which depicts two men, one tilting a jug in his hand to fill the glass being held by the other man. This is believed to have been a ceremonial stance, and it can be assumed that the drink suggested in the picture is not an ordinary one, or devoid of any pleasant effects.

The environmental conditions of the island indicate that the Therans had a very simple diet, which might have led them to find various ways to accentuate it, by mixing up the few products that they could produce on this land. These conditions were also the reasons for the growth of monocultures and the creation of a surplus of certain products, which led to the increase in the wealth of these cultures.

The most prominent of these monocultures, which exists even today, is viticulture. Evident from the opulent graves and monuments surrounding it, is that this monoculture was clearly a reason for rise in wealth of families as far back as the 6th or the 7th centuries. Some of the items retrieved from these monuments in the cemeteries include the famous Theran Kouroi, which today are on display at the Archaeological Museum in Fira as well as the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, and the outsized ancient kore, recovered from the cemetery in Sella recently.

The people of Santorini are well aware of the significant role that the monoculture of vine and the export of wine played in increasing not just the wealth of the island but also the island's contacts with the outside world. Hopefully the current economic activity, tourism, will not take away the significance of the island's most ancient and profitable economic activities, viticulture and wine production, by causing the degradation of the environment, and lack of interest in this monoculture.

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