Santorini and Minoan Civilization

The influence of Santorini on the Minoan civilization: Santorini was occupied by many civilizations along with its history, but its most influential early inhabitants were the Minoans. The destruction of the Minoan Civilization is a major issue which troubled many archaeologists from the time that archaeological excavations brought to light the Minoan palace of Knossos, in the last 19th century.

The Minoan Civilization was born and developed in Crete, about 5,000 years ago. The Minoans were educated people, good traders, artists, and experienced sailors. They were the first who created and used written language in Europe, which was decoded quite recently. At its peak, the Minoan civilization was entirely destroyed and disappeared for good, leaving some impressive traces which prove their existence.

Somewhere between 2,000 and 1,600 BC, the Minoans arrived in Santorini and settled in the area of nowadays Akrotiri. There, they built a developed Minoan city with public buildings, streets, stone houses, market place, and even sewage system. Akrotiri was getting rich out of the trade, like all the other Minoan towns, and also developed arts, like painting with colours. The frescoes of Akrotiri are particularly famous for their vivid colours and wonderful representations. These frescoes can be seen today at the Archaeological Museum of Athens.

Around 1,650 BC a chain of earthquakes and eruptions caused a very powerful explosion of the Santorini volcano. The volcanic ashes covered the Minoan settlement of Akrotiri and even reached the northern coasts of Crete and destroyed towns like Knossos. In fact, archaeologists have discovered volcanic ashes in the Cretan soil which proves that the ashes, through the tsunami waves, reached that far from their spring, causing the end of the Minoan Civilization.