The island of Santorini, or Thira as it is called nowadays, is quite stunning: it’s practically formed only by the edge of a huge caldera, nearly 10 kilometers in diameter and open to the sea, with the volcano’s crater just protruding in the middle.
The island had already this shape when a rich and sophisticated civilization blossomed, apparently simultaneously here and in nearby Crete, between 3000 and 1600 years B.C.
This civilization was the superpower of its times in the aegean, thanks to its advanced technologies and powerful fleet.
Then, nothing. Both civilizations declined and, although the two islands continued to be inhabited, they were much less wealthy and powerful, and were easily prey of nearby peoples, the Myceneans first (the Acheans of Homer) and later the Egyptians which at the time were subject to the Persians.
Excavations conducted in the last decades have shown that the settlements on Thira were destroyed and buried under the volcanic ashes of a huge eruption which took place around the year 1600 B.C. and which appears to have been several times more destructive than the infamous explosion of Krakatoa in 1888, therefore it is believed that also the towns in Crete could have been destroyed by the combination of earthquakes, tsunamis and ashes, placing a mortal blow on the economic and social structures of both populations.
And what about Atlantis? The story is actually third-hand: it’s told by Plato, who heard it from Solo, who heard it from an Egyptian High priest during a voyage in 590 B.C., at a time when the Egyptians held a naval base on Thira and might well have heard some local stories about the disaster of 1000 years before. Few data, telling of a powerful and sophisticated civilization spread over two island, which was destroyed overnight by Zeus by means of a catastrophic volcanic eruption: sounds familiar?