Today was one of the busiest, but also one of the best. We started off the day going to a museum of Akrotiri, the city of Santorini that was destroyed by a volcanic blast in the Middle to Late Bronze Age. Santorini is actually just one big volcano, all of it. It’s one of the few super volcanoes in the world. The ash from the volcano preserved things better than other places we’ve seen. For example, the frescoes on the walls of the city are so intact they’re almost whole. The people of Akrotiri used the fresco technique not only on walls, as we’ve seen, but also on ceilings and floors. Very elaborate. Wow. Amaze.
Santorini was an important hub for trade in that time. Exports and imports to and from the island made the economy there wealthy and prosperous. Things from all over the world–Egypt, Syria, Asian Minor, etc.–made their way to and from Santorini.
Unfortunately (for us), an earthquake before the eruption caused the evacuation of most all of the residents of Akrotiri, who took all their most valuable possessions. Thus, the only gold artifact found at the site is a small golden ibex figurine. It is extremely cool to see.
A fun fact before your other fun facts for today: the volcanic ash that settles on organic material like people or wood will harden, and the organic material will decompose, leaving a hole in the shape of the person/wood/etc. We got to see the plaster casts of a table and chair of Akrotiri in the museum.
My favorite artifact I found wandering around other than the ibex was the fossilized plants in volcanic rock from 60,000 BC. They were olive leaves.
So, I needed to include this whether or not it’s a good idea. It’s important to remember for when I look back on today. AHEM *clears throat*. I was trying to see holes in animal-head-shaped libation vessels, so I leaned towards them. I somehow forgot that there is glass separating me and the vessels, and with a loud THUD I konked my head on the glass. People stared, I laughed so hard I cried and simultaneously wanted to cry from embarrassment.
Seriously, it was so loud and my head sounded hollow according to Barnes.
After the museum, we moved on to the actual site of Akrotiri. In 6 buildings on the site, 10,000 artifacts have been found. Ten thousand. The site is actually inside—a special ceiling allows natural light in, but the site is cool and shady. This is the first site we’ve ever been to that is like this.
We saw the box in which the golden ibex was found, next to an altar of animal bones. It is believed that they were involved in last-minute sacrifice to appease Mother Earth and calm the volcano, but when it didn’t work, the people had to leave.
We saw an amazingly well preserved ancient toilet, one of the oldest known in the world, and its plumbing, belonging to a well-to-do ship captain or seaman. We also saw the plaster casts of beds used by people trying to rebuild after the earthquake who died from the volcano. I liked that pieces of fresco were still on the walls of the place. I also liked that some of the pottery found there was left so you could see what the rooms looked like at the time of excavation as well as when they were in their heyday.
We got to walk at the level of the street of Akrotiri, which I really enjoyed. We saw the basics of what they saw at the level they saw it, walking through stone arches and next to large buildings.
Next we moved on to the beach! We stopped at a black sand beach in Southern Santorini. The sand was blistering hot but the water was warm and it was overall very pleasant. I ate a nice chicken salad, so I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.
We loaded up the bus after a couple hours at the beach and headed to a winery called Gaia (pronounced Yai-yuh) that uses Santorini grapes called Assyrtiko to make wines characteristic of the region. Another interesting fact: grape vines in Santorini are not grown upwards, like other vines. They are weaved into baskets to protect the grapes from the wind and the sun. Every year growers take the strongest new vines and weave them into older vines to create a basket shape low to the ground. All the vines live in volcanic ash, too. Some of the vines have long roots 400-500 years old.
After the vineyard, we had around 20 minutes to freshen up for dinner. We went to a fancier restaurant overlooking the water with a mountain to the right side. We all ended up having deep conversations on my end of the table, which I enjoyed but some people did not. Then, we went to a bar for a few minutes and went to bed.
1. The island is ~18 miles long, and 30 square miles large.
2. In Minoan times at Akrotiri, boobs were carved out on pottery like ewers to represent Mother Earth.
3. The people on Santorini may have had monkeys as pets. They’re depicted in frescoes as blue and they’re basically all over the place.
4. There’s a legend that some believe that says the volcano burying Akrotiri in ash also destroyed the lost city of Atlantis.
5. At Akrotiri, buildings were built on large pieces of gravel so they’d shift in earthquakes instead of shaking.
6. The winemaker at Gaia was described as “a bit crazy”, and right now, he’s experimenting with a wine fermenting in an area devoid of oxygen. Its first tasting will be soon.
CAAAAAN YOU FEEEEEL THE FEEEELZ TONIIIIGHT
I’m running out of titles for All the Feels. Just so everyone knows if you couldn’t tell by that ^^.
So today was great. We kept very busy but every activity was engaging and interesting. I really liked the discussion at dinner for 2 reasons: a) I got to talk about feminism which always makes me feel happy and fulfilled, and b) I got to hear about other’s opinions on things like life and love, and it really gives you a different perspective. I’m glad I am close enough with these people that we can have these discussions, because I find them important for the development of one’s self.
I am exhausted, but I want to make the most of my trip, so I’m going with the, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” mentality, which may or may not be dangerous. I’m doing my best. I fall asleep sitting up a lot.
Sleepy in Santorini 🙂