Is there a connection between the ancient eruption on Santorino and the Egyptian biblical watergate? Most people go to Santorino for bathing, sunbathing and relaxing. In 1986 I went there mostly for partying. Later I understood that the island had more "to dive in to" than I expected. It was not only the beautiful black beaches, the sunset, the hot bubbling water and the white houses that stunned me, but it was first and foremost the amazing stories about the volcanic eruptions that hit me.
Between the waterholes in Santorino I took my time to take a closer look at the environment. I also visited an excavation on historical ground where several interesting finds have been done.
When will the next eruption come? Santorino is an active volcano in the South Aegean Sea about 120 km north of Crete and belongs to the Cycladic islands. Further more Santorini is a group of 5 islands. We visited the main island Thera (75,8 km2), where ca. 7000 inhabitants live.
In the great Bronze Age an explosive eruption that buried the Minoan town of Akrotiti. The most recent large eruption, the Minoan eruption, broke out in the late Bronze Age at around 1640 BC and shocked the Eastern Mediterranean area.
Santorini is still active. It has been "sleeping" since 1950, but there have been several small eruptions. It is risky both to live here and to visit the island. The latest small eruption was in 1980, few years after I entered there.
Because of the volcano, the mysterious atmosphere overwhelmed me. The local architecture was something for itself, obvious influenced by the volcano. From the boat I could observe beautiful snow white houses covered the steep hillside whole the way up to the top. It was like travelling back in the past to a mysterious old kingdom, something that could wake associations with the legend of Atlantis.
Mystery linked to Atlantis
Fascinated by the unique surroundings, I started to wonder about that this island had something to do with the legend of Atlantis. Since Plato first wrote about Atlantis in Timaeus and Critias for nearly 2,400 years there have been launched many interesting theories. One of the theories was that Santorino was the remains of Atlantis. As far I know, historians and archaeologists have not found any evidence for that, but the legend still lives. For me I was willing to believe that Santorino has been a part of the sunken Atlantis kingdom. On few places in the world the interaction between volcanism and human life and culture is as intense as on Santorini. The particular conditions have developed a unique cultural and artistic style that dates several thousands of years back.
Living on a hot bobbling pot
It was hard for me to understand that the inhabitants could relax and live under such risky conditions. It was not a question whether it would break out again, but when. Try to imagine how it is to live on a hot bobbling pot just waiting for the big bang? Soon or later the pressure would to too high. But people seemed to live unworried. In my case I should just stay there for few days, so I took the chance to set my foot on the island. I enjoyed bathing in the hot bobbling water, but in the back of my mind I waited for the big explosion?
Stein Morten Lund, 25 March 2002.