All posts by Carly Stefano

A Period of Unrest? About What?

“Is it safe for me to live on this island? Do I have time to sell my house?” Irini, a local worker in a shop of handmade goods, inquired to me and a classmate of mine after we told her our purpose for being on this island for three weeks. We assured her that she was fine for a long while, but there is no denying that Santorini is an island of unrest. Volcanic unrest, that is. There is so much volcanic activity within the caldera that there was a period of crisis that occurred between for fourteen months from the years 2011 to 2012. Here is the interesting part: a majority of inhabitants on Santorini don’t even know why this period was considered a crisis.

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A Geologic Lesson for the Little Ones

Sharing one’s knowledge with others is one of the greatest gifts that anyone can give. Being a young, aspiring teacher, I especially advocate this idea. The whole reason why my group and I are on this incredible journey in Santorini is to come back to the United States and share our geologic knowledge of what we have all learned and discovered about the Minoan eruption of Santorini that occurred thousands of years ago.
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The Minerals That Paint Santorini, and Their Vitality

Have you ever made your own paint before? What about having to mine it in order to make it? Santorinians created their fresco paints out of the minerals that their island withheld, and the results of those frescoes are quite a sight to be seen. Because of these minerals, past Akroteri artists of Santorini have had the opportunity to make some of the finest, most beautiful, and appreciated frescoes and pottery on the island that are still preserved to this day.
In 1989, an archaeologist reported at the Thera Congress that white clay and other colored pigments that were used on excavated jars that were created by the Ancient Minoans in Akroteri used the mineral, talc, which archaeologists thought were imported. (1) But talc was not the only mineral that was used to make pigments. As stated in Walter L. Friedrich’s Santorini, “White, red, blue, and green minerals are found in the phyllites of a metamorphic series close to the warm springs in the caldera…” (1) The minerals, magnetite and hematite, that created red and black colors can currently be found in the sand on beaches in Santorini, and malachite and chrysocolla minerals, which made blue and green colors, could be found near Profitis Elias, a mountain on Thira, Santorini’s main island. (1) It was concluded that all of these colors could have been used as painting pigments by the Ancient Minoans in Akroteri, Santorini frescoes. (1)
Along with the discovery of these minerals that could have been used for painting frescoes, many important realizations about the island itself were made. The discovery of the minerals is one of the important pieces of evidence that contributed to geologists understanding the volcanic history if the island, and it aided in making it clear to geologists and archaeologists that Santorini was not just a high mountain, but that it was a massive caldera filled with ocean water. (1) Due to talc, malachite, and chrysocolla being metamorphic, and magnetite and hematite being volcanic, the presence of these minerals determined that this island was indeed a volcano because of their geologic composition. These unveiled minerals also allowed geologists and archaeologists to conclude that most of the material on Akroteri was collected from the immediate island, which gave way to assume what building materials were used, as well as potential trade routes that could have been utilized. (1)
The minerals that the Ancient Minoans used for their paints composed beautiful colors, and it is all a result of Santorini’s abundant geological resource of minerals. Without the discovery of these minerals, such incredible art would not have been created, and many vital characteristics about the island would not have been disclosed.

(1) Friedrich, W.L., 2009. Santorini: Volcano, Natural History, and Mythology, Denmark Aarhus University Press