History of the settlement
Evidence from pottery finds shows that the site of Akrotiri was inhabited since the late neolithic period (5th millennium bc), that it grew through the early 3rd millennium bc (Early Cycladic period), and that it became a flourishing settlement in the Middle Cycladic period. on exceptionally clear days, the mountains of Crete are visible from parts of Thera, and Akrotiri is the point on the island closest to Crete. It is the very first landfall for maritime traffic heading north from Crete. Links between the two islands must have been close from the Middle Cycladic period on, and some scholars have suggested that the settlement at Akrotiri was a Minoan trading colony. The truth is more complex: although there is clearly strong Minoan influence, there are many elements of architecture, town planning, painting and ceramic production which betray a quite independent Cycladic parentage. What is visible to the visitor today, therefore, is a town of the mid-17th century bc, which is a hybrid of Minoan and Cycladic features. Several times in its history the town was destroyed or damaged by earthquakes; on each occasion the ruins were levelled, and new building was begun above, following the same urban plan. This meant that the street level rose, and at several points ground floor rooms became half-sunken basements. In the seismic events leading up to the final eruption of Thera, the town was evacuated more than once and then re-occupied in moments of quiescence, in which repairs to the damaged buildings were undertaken. Before the final cataclysm it appears that the population had sufficient warning to collect their valuable belongings and animals, and to leave. In contradistinction to Pompeii and Herculaneum, no bodies and few real valuables have been found in excavations so far. After the final eruption in the late 16th (or, according to some authorities, 17th) century bc, the town was buried and preserved by the packed and hardened volcanic ash.

Santorini Island is part of the Cyclades Island Group, Greece.

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