Ignorance is Not Bliss: What Doomed Pompeii and Saved Akrotiri

Throughout our study here on Santorini, our geologic knowledge was built up to one main event: the Minoan eruption. As an anthropology major, all I was concerned about was the settlement of Akrotiri, which was preserved beneath the ash. As I wandered through the excavation site of Akrotiri, I began to draw comparisons between this city and the city of Pompeii.
The main point of difference between these two very similar cases is the death toll. Akrotiri excavations have turned up no human remains, or any sign of human activity during the eruption at all. This indicates that the Minoans evacuated before the eruption even began, most likely during the preliminary earthquakes. Conversely, Pompeii is closely linked in memory to the bodies found preserved in casts of ash. While all of Pompeii has not be excavated, the number of bodies found represents a tenth of the overall population, putting the death toll in the thousands.
I began to wonder: why did Akrotiri evacuate and not Pompeii? There are several possible factors that could have led to the Minoans abandoning their city before the real danger even began.

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A Brief History of Bad Decisions

The island of Santorini has an extensive history of volatile seismic and volcanic activity. Aside from the four caldera eruptions that have decimated the entire island over the past 200 thousand years, Santorini seems to be a hot spot for smaller eruptions and large earthquakes. Despite this reputation, civilizations have been settling the land since the third millennium BCE (before common era), ignoring the obvious hazards that would later plague each of them. What do these messy histories entail and what did these peoples of the past see in this dangerous land to warrant them staying for generations?

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Reconstruction and Restoration: Preserving Ancient Artifacts

Preserving history is what museums strive for. People go through the galleries on a daily basis, always admiring different works. What some don’t realize is the amount of work that goes into preserving the artifacts and keeping them standing in their original positions     Each piece is made differently and handle in various ways. Although some of the images above may not be of … Continue reading Reconstruction and Restoration: Preserving Ancient Artifacts

What’s the Use?

Greece, a popular tourist destination, is full of numerous ancient structures that have been around for centuries. What is the purpose of these buildings? How have their uses changed as the people living near them have changed? Take a journey with me back in time and I’ll show you.     Citations: 1. “Odeon of Herodes Atticus.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 June 2018, en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odeon_of_Herodes_Atticus. 2. … Continue reading What’s the Use?

Ancient Greece: The Struggle for Beauty, Strength, and Power

The concept of beauty, strength, and power has been an ever-changing ideology throughout time and the world. Each society has an understanding of what it means to be beautiful, strong, and powerful. Ancient Greece is no exception to this. With the fear of losing their power and strength to invaders and the Gods setting standards of how to be beautiful, Ancient Greeks were constantly striving … Continue reading Ancient Greece: The Struggle for Beauty, Strength, and Power

The Peculiar Placement of Athens Acropolis

The Acropolis in Athens sits high above the city on a peculiar limestone mound. The Acropolis has had many uses since its installment: it provided a vantage point for defending the city, and fresh water springs around the base of the mound provided a place to wash and bathe. But most importantly, because of the immense size of the towering limestone outcrop, the Acropolis sat … Continue reading The Peculiar Placement of Athens Acropolis

Minoans Know Best

In the late Bronze Age the Minoans did not have the technology to monitor the caldera but evidence shows they left before the Minoan eruption of 1613 BC. As a class we visited the ancient Minoan city Akrotiri which is sometimes called the Greek Pompeii. The city has been preserved by the ash fall from the Minoan eruption there is clear evidence the Minoans left before the eruption. I want to know what caused them to leave and did they know that a major eruption was going to occur? Today scientists can monitor the volcanic activity of Nea Kameni but they can’t predict when a volcano will erupt or know if they should call for an evacuation.

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The Treasure Under the Ash

When you first step foot into the excavation of the ancient Minoan town of Akrotiri the world seems to get just a little smaller. To stand in a spot where 4,000 years ago people walked those very streets going about their daily lives is one of the most amazing experiences a person can really have. The town sits now as a ruin covered in pumice and ash left over by the eruption that brought one of the most technologically advanced ancient civilizations to its knees.

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