Santorini’s Rich History Is Getting Richer

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Credit James Rajotte for The New York Times

Some of La Paz Group’s senior contributors have recollections of Santorini going back three decades, and the history of the place is both geological and cultural; the complexity of that history is still being revealed:

An Ancient Tsunami That Ended a Civilization Gets Another Look

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In the 17th century B.C., Santorini was a small volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, home to Akrotiri, a Late Bronze Age outpost of Minoan civilization, which preceded ancient Greece. Then the volcano erupted, burying Akrotiri in ash and obliterating much of Santorini, turning it into a few smaller islands.

The eruption was one of the world’s most powerful in the past 10,000 years, spewing some 20 cubic miles of rock into the skies and spawning a tsunami that struck the nearby island of Crete, which was the center of Minoan culture. Many archaeologists believe the tsunami was disruptive enough that the Minoans became easier prey for the outside invaders who conquered them a century and a half later and brought an end to one of the first European civilizations.

In the 17th century B.C., Santorini was a small volcanic island in the Aegean Sea, home to Akrotiri, a Late Bronze Age outpost of Minoan civilization, which preceded ancient Greece. Then the volcano erupted, burying Akrotiri in ash and obliterating much of Santorini, turning it into a few smaller islands.

The eruption was one of the world’s most powerful in the past 10,000 years, spewing some 20 cubic miles of rock into the skies and spawning a tsunami that struck the nearby island of Crete, which was the center of Minoan culture. Many archaeologists believe the tsunami was disruptive enough that the Minoans became easier prey for the outside invaders who conquered them a century and a half later and brought an end to one of the first European civilizations.

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