Early in the Late Bronze Age*, the volcano at the centre of the island Santorini (or Thera) erupted with enormous force, possibly the largest eruption by a volcano located near densely populated areas ever. The bursting of the Earth was accompanied by earthquakes and tidal waves, and could be the reason for the downfall of the Minoan Civilization. The large-scale destruction could even be the origin for the legend of Atlantis.

The buried village of Akrotiri lies on the southern end of Santorini. Spyridon Marinatos started excavating it in the 1960s, to test his theory that Akrotiri had been destroyed at the same time as other Minoan ruins on Crete. He did strengthen his theory, as the pottery found here was from the same period as that found on Crete.

What was found below the lava, however, proved to be much more than that. Akrotiri was discovered to be another Pompeii, with intact houses, frescoes, furniture, even pieces of food. There were no skeletons, however, so the people must have had enough warning to flee. No jewellery was found either, which suggests an organized mass migration from the site. The people had time enough to know what they were doing.

They did not return to rebuild the village after the eruption, however. Perhaps they thought the volcano was still threatening, or that a better life could be found elsewhere. Today's Akrotiri is a quiet farming village mostly devoted to the production of wine.

* The outbreak is thought to have taken place in 1628 BC, judging from tree ring dating