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Ancient times   Medieval era   Modern history
Santorini was known as Stongili (=round shaped) in the ancient times, and after as Thira, by Thiras, the first king of the island. For a rather brief period the island was also called Kallisti (=much beautiful). While Thira still remains the island's official name, it is most known as Santorini, a name that the Franks gave to the island, after the church of Saint Irene in Perissa.
During the ancient times, as 1969 excavations revealed, the island was the most important Minoan site out of Crete, where the birthplace of the Minoan culture is. The foundings in Akrotiri were indeed fascinating and provide conclusive evidence of a flourishing community, with power and wealth. Many of the houses found were three stories high, while the world famous frescoes stand as proof to a civilized and rather wealthy society. This all came to a devastating end around 1700BC, when the Minoan Eruption of the Volcano turned everything into ashes. It seems thought that thankfully earthquakes prior to the major event gave the inhabitants the chance to abandon the island and save their lifes. There are many that believe that this prosperous and wealthy island is no other than the Lost Atlantis that Plato reffers to.


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As an immediate result to this massive destruction, Santorini was totally abandoned for ages and most probably unoccupied till the Phoenicians arrived and after them, around 900BC, the Dorians, who named the island "Thira", after Thiras, their king. It was then that the city today known as Ancient Thira was built and became the island's capital. Thira became an important city state, with a significant commercial activity and many colonies, and always in favour of the Dorian Sparta and against Athens. During the Hellenistic period, the island was an important naval base for Ptolemaic Egypt.  The ancient era of Santorini comes to an end, as for all the rest of Greece, with the arrival of the Romans.



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