ATHENS – New discoveries at an archaeological site on the tourist-favorite Greek island of Santorini provide valuable information about the ideological and religious beliefs of the Bronze-Age Cycladic civilization, Greece’s Culture Ministry said on Friday.
Excavations at the Akrotiri site, which have been directed by the University of Athens’ Christos Doumas since 1975, have found inside what was once an important public building that was used to celebrate rites numerous artifacts such as a marble figurine with female features, an alabaster vase, two collared marble jars and a vial made of the same material.
“These finds are undoubtedly linked to the views and beliefs of Thiran society and provide a stimulus for a new interpretive drive on fundamental questions about the ideology and possibly the religion of prehistoric Aegean society,” the ministry said.
Akrotiri – widely called the “Minoan Pompeii” – is one of the Mediterranean region’s most important archaeological sites.
It was once a large settlement that was completely destroyed around the year 1628 BC in a catastrophic volcanic eruption on the island, which in Ancient Greek was known as Thera.
Just like the Roman-era remains in Pompeii and Herculaneum, Akrotiri is a goldmine for researchers because much of the settlement became preserved for the ages by a solidified volcanic ash called pumice.
The Late Bronze Age eruption devastated many nearby islands and is commonly believed to have triggered the downfall of the once-dominant Minoan civilization based on the neighboring island of Crete due to the desolating earthquakes and tsunamis that followed.
Akrotiri has been suggested by several experts as a likely candidate to represent the fictional island of Atlantis mentioned in Plato’s works.
The site, which covers some 20 hectares (50 acres) was discovered in 1866 and excavations started in 1967. After five decades, archaeologists have only uncovered a small percentage of the area, meaning that it surely contains many more discoveries waiting to be made.