"" Writer's Wanderings: Santorini: Akrotiri - Ancient Thera

Friday, November 30, 2012

Santorini: Akrotiri - Ancient Thera

Our friend at the Budget rental counter when we arrived had emphasized over and over again that we dare not miss the Ancient Thera exhibit (spelled Thira on our map). Even though it was the afternoon and the sun was getting hot, knowing the whole thing was under cover, we decided to visit.

A large parking lot I'm sure filled with tour buses at certain times when the cruise ships were in cost us three Euros to park. Across the street and a short walk up a sidewalk and we stopped to buy tickets for 5 Euros each. There was an option to have a guide take you through the dig but we decided that was probably more information than we wanted to try to absorb.

Once inside the building, I was immediately reminded of Xian and the Terra Cotta Warriors. The enclosure is not nearly as large as the one in China but it is very nicely done and certainly makes the visit much more pleasant. Ramps and viewing platforms afford you opportunity to see everything that is there. At one spot you can even walk down into the town and along part of it's road between buildings.

The settlement predates the the volcano's eruption around 1600 B.C. that created the present shape of the island of Santorini. The inhabitants, Minoan, are thought to have come from Crete and settled here. The ash from the eruption buried the town but also preserved much of it. It is an amazing experience to walk through such ancient remains of an era we can only imagine.

There is thought that the stories surrounding the eruption of the volcano back then led to the legend of Atlantis. According to a National Geographic site I found, Plato told the story of Atlantis somewhere around 360 B.C. He told of a utopian civilization made up of people who were half god and half human. Of course it was embellished with tales of gold, silver, and exotic wildlife.

The volcano which wiped out a large section of Santorini and took out civilizations on Crete and other islands around the area with a huge tsunami fits with the idea of Atlantis sinking into the ocean. However ocean explorer, Robert Ballard, doesn't think this is the place of which Plato spoke because it doesn't coincide with the time Plato said Atlantis was destroyed.

James Romm, a professor at Bard College in New York state, believes that Plato created the story to support some of his philosophical theories.

Charles Orser, curator of history at the New York State Museum in Albany says the legend of Atlantis is a story about moral, spiritual people who lived in a highly advanced civilization but became greedy, petty and morally bankrupt. And of course, in the end, were destroyed by the gods they angered.

Atlantis or not, the archaeological  dig was most interesting and a not to be missed spot to visit if you have the time.

It was another beautiful sunset that evening. Another terrific meal, this time in Imerovigili, and a nice climb up the stairs back to Casa Bianca and our lovely room. I could really get used to this.

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