Santorini Map Distances

The most important sectors of the island’s economy were farming, pastoralism, fishing and shipping. Our evidence for this is the discovery of ancient jars filled with barley seeds, flour, and pulses such as yellow peas and other legumes. The islanders also must have cultivated sesame seeds and practised beekeeping, and were surely familiar with the olive, since so many amphorae – which were used primarily for transporting olive oil – have come to light. Bunches of grapes are often depicted on vases, revealing that vines were cultivated, too. This is borne out by the discovery of various jars which were used to store liquids. The Akrotirians also harvested crocuses, which yielded saffron for the dyeing of cloth. They raised sheep, goats and pigs and kept oxen as beasts of burden.

The presence of looms in many if the houses demonstrates that the women were often occupied with weaving. Moreover, the large number of vases and other types of pot-lery tells us that another flourishing sector of the economy was that of ceramic produc- j lion. The finding of stone lools and vessels, such as ; mills, pestles, hammers and the like, implies the development of masonry. Finally, the quality of the town planning, architecture and painting at Akrotiri shows that the Santorinians of that period were superb builders, engineers, masons and artists.

The architecture and the layout of the settlement at Akrotiri reveal a good deal about the structure of its society. The kinds of room that existed in each building and their location (with the workshops and storerooms on the ground floor and the living quarters upstairs) lead us to the conclusion that each house lent a certain degree of self-sufficiency to its occupants. In addition, the fact that up to now more than one large, comfortable house has been excavated shows that the wealth of the area must have been fairly evenly distributed. Furthermore, no palace has yet been found, and therefore there may not have been a king. These observations have given rise to the theory that Akrotiri society was governed by the priestly class, which also controlled the economy.

Santorini Map Distances Photo Gallery

The absence of any temples convinced Marinatos that each house must have contained ii.s own private place of worship. He formulated ilie idea that the Akrotirians must have worshipped naiure and fertility, as was the case in neighbouring Crete. He maintained that the large free-standing buildings must have been the residences of important officials and that Xeste 3 was the religious . i Tit I administrative centre of the community.

What, however, was the relationship between I.ale Minoan Thera and Crete? From all that we have already said, it is obvious that Akrotiri was .self-sufficient economically. Although it was influenced by Minoan Crete in terms of architecture and the arts, its culture was largely its own. Consequently, Akrotiri cannot be thought of as a Minoan colony. In fact, Cretans must have taken up resi-

Pari of the Fleet or Convoy mural which adorned room 5 in the West House, showing one oj Ihe ships of Thera with its crew

A jug with hreast-like protruberances painted with ears of barley A jug ornamented with bird motifs, one of the most superb examples of pottery from Akrotiri dence here to exploit the economic potential of the island and its inhabitants. In other words, it was a kind of tradine station for Crete.

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