Greece reopens Bronze Age site on Santorini island

Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:47am EDT
 
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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece reopened on Wednesday the Bronze Age site of Akrotiri on the tourist island of Santorini, seven years after its roof collapsed, killing a British visitor.

Known as the "Pompeii of the Aegean", the prehistoric town was buried under thick layers of volcanic ash during an eruption 3,700 years ago that may have destroyed the Minoan civilization in Crete to the south.

"One of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece and the world opened its gates again," said Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Petros Alivizatos. "Akrotiri, which is now fully safe, will attract visitors and boost Greek tourism."

The site was closed down in 2005 after its roof collapsed killing a 45-year old Welsh tourist. A new roof made of steel and wood now shelters the settlement discovered by Greek archaeologists in 1967.

Akrotiri was one of the main centers of the Cycladic Civilization but residents were forced to abandon their homes in the late 17th century B.C. due to earth shocks that were followed by the Santorini volcano eruption, one of the largest volcanic events in history.

Lava and volcanic ash covered the entire island and the settlement, helping preserve the buildings but also streets and squares, furniture and pottery, making it one of the oldest and best preserved archaeological sites in the world.

(Reporting by Renee Maltezou, editing by Paul Casciato)

 
A group of journalists leave the archaeological site of prehistoric city of Akrotiri at the volcanic cycladic island of Santorini March 27, 2000. YK