The excavations
Evidence of prehistoric settlement in the Santorini archipelago first came to light on Therasi­a in the 1860s, when a quarry which had been opened to provide pozzolana for the building of the Suez Canal, revealed a Bronze Age house of several rooms containing a wealth of pottery, which was briefly excavated by Ferdinand Fouque in 1867. Fouque also examined the site of Akrotiri, finding evidence of walls and strata composed of vase fragments. As a consequence of his finds, a team from the French School of Archaeology under Henri Mamet, dug at Akrotiri in 1870, and published their findings (in Latin) four years later. Following a brief campaign of excavation, to the east of the present site, by Robert Zahn in 1899, nothing further was done for almost seventy years. In 1939 Spyridon Marinatos published an article suggesting that the simultaneous destruction of so many Minoan palaces and villas was the result of violent volcanic activity on Thera. It was not until 1967 that he first began digging at Akrotiri, having surveyed the whole area a few years previously. By a combination of good luck and brilliant foresight, he made significant finds from the very first days of excavation, when he descended into a room with a large window, containing decorated and painted storage vases. Marinatos died on the site as the result of an accident while excavating in 1974. Since then, the excavations have continued under the guidance of Professor Christos Doumas. Several thousand tons of volcanic ash and pumice have been removed from an area of about 2 hectares, but the excavations are still in their infancy.

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

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