Santorini with Prof. Floyd McCoy

June 23, 2012, The Arizona in the Aegean program was fortunate to be accompanied throughout our four-day excursion by leading geologist Floyd McCoy of the University of Hawaii @ Windward, who served as a guide to the world famous ancient excavation of the prehistoric town of Akrotiri, and other sites on Santorini. Floyd has been concluding research in this town and many other locations on the island since 1966 and is widely known due to his long involvement with the island, and has had almost a five-decade relationship with the local population. The current head guard in charge of Akrotiri was so happy to see Floyd that he literally squealed when he saw him. Akrotiri was a flourishing town until the 1600 BC Minoan eruption, which buried the entire town over the course of four days. It is estimated that over the four-day ash-fall that roughly four inches of ash fell per hour. Entire boulders of pumice and obsidian also struck the town and destroyed structures. This destructive ash fall and pumice was ironically also what preserved this site for modern excavation and viewing. No dead bodies were found as a result of citizens leaving due to the advanced warnings that earthquakes and a small pre-eruption had given. We were very lucky to be able to visit the site because it had been open for only 60 days after previously being closed for ten years following a structural collapse and resulting death. While rebuilding pylons to support the roof, further archeological evidence came to light, forcing many holes to be abandoned from pylon construction. This was the cause of the lengthy downtime regarding the re-opening of the site to the public. A golden figurine of a goat dated to the 17th century BC, now exhibited at the Thera museum, was found inside a wooden box and clay chest at Akrotiri. The find-spot is still being excavated and as a result, the figurine’s significance is currently unknown. When at the site, Floyd gave us background on this ancient event before we were given one hour to roam around the massive indoor site of intimidating scale. We followed this event by talking over a long lunch of coffee, seafood, and various other Greek specialties while enjoying the company of Floyd and his colleagues.

N.S. 2012