History of Santorini

The History of Santorini begins during the Bronze Age. The oldest signs of human settlement on Santorini are Late Neolithic  but ca. 2000–1650 BC Akrotiri developed into one of the Aegean’s major Bronze Age ports; with recovered objects that had come, not just from Crete, but also from Anatolia, Cyprus, Syria, and Egypt as well as from the Dodecanese and the Greek mainland.

Santorini was one of the largest eruption in Europe in historical times, which had devastating consequences for the Minoan civilization; and was the main cause of its decline. According to the latest studies, the eruption of the volcano caused first a rain of pumice and ashes, then rained down boulders and finally the characteristic red pumice that has made the island. Then the volcano erupted: a jet of compressed material and gas reached the stratosphere at a speed of 2000 km / h. The ashes were scattered for miles and day turned to night and altered, probably, sunrises, sunsets and weather conditions.

After the eruption remained unoccupied throughout the rest of the Bronze Age; however, during which time the Greeks took over Crete. Over the centuries after the general catastrophes of 1200 BC Phoenicians founded a site on Thera. Herodotus reports that the Phoenicians called the island Callista and lived on it for eight generations. Then, in the 9th century BC, Dorians founded the main Hellenic city – on Mesa Vouno, 396 m above sea level. This group later claimed that they had named the city and the island after their leader, Theras. Today, that city is referred to as Ancient Thera.

The Dorians have left a number of inscriptions incised in stone, in the vicinity of the temple of Apollo, attesting to pederastic relations between the authors and their eromenoi. These inscriptions, found by Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen, have been thought by some archaeologists to be of a ritual, celebratory nature, due to their large size, careful construction and – in some cases – execution by craftsmen other than the authors.


According to Herodotus  following a drought of seven years, Thera sent out colonists who founded a number of cities in northern Africa, including Cyrene. In the 5th century BC, Dorian Thera did not join the Delian League with Athens; and during the Peloponnesian War, Thera sided with Dorian Sparta, against Athens. The Athenians took the island during the war, but lost it again after the Battle of Aegospotami.

During the Hellenistic period, the island was a major naval base for the Ptolemaic Egypt. As with other Greek territories, Thera then was ruled by the Romans; it passed to the eastern side of the Empire when it divided – which now is known as the Byzantine Empire. According to George Cedrenus, the volcano erupted in the summer of 727  “In the same year, in the summer, a vapour like an oven’s fire boiled up for days out of the middle of the islands of Thera and Therasia from the depths of the sea, and the whole place burned like fire.”

During the Crusades, the Franks settled it, while in the 13th century AD, the Venetians annexed the isle to the Duchy of Naxos and renamed it Santorini, that is Saint Irene. Santorini came under Ottoman rule in 1579.Santorini became independent from Ottoman rule in 1821, during the Greek War of Independence and was united with Greece in 1830 under the Treaty of London.