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Ancient Sites in Santorini, Part 1 (Akrotiri)

May 13, 2012

For the past year and a half, I’ve been working on my first novel, a historical fantasy called The Bull Jumper: A Tale of Ancient Greece, which takes place in the Cyclades in approximately 1625 B.C.. Recently, my husband and I visited the island of Santorini, where most of my novel takes place. I had read countless books and websites on Minoan Greece and the Santorini eruption, but the experience of actually visiting the island, its museums, beaches, and ancient sites proved invaluable and inspiring.

Ancient Akrotiri was buried in a massive volcanic eruption around 1625 B.C.. The eruption virtually ended what is known as the Minoan period of Ancient Greece, a time when Crete and its surrounding islands was a superpower of military strength, culture, and technology. The volcanic ash preserved a large portion of an extensive settlement on Akrotiri. No human remains have been found in Akrotiri, so apparently, citizens fled the settlement before the eruption.

In The Bull Jumper, Akrotiri is a bustling market-city on the harbor, called Asasara. This is where my heroine, Amerin, spends the first thirteen years of her life:

In The Bull Jumper, Akrotiri is a bustling market-city on the harbor called Asasara....

My Aunt Udthara, our Lady of Asasara, called me to her sitting-room. Its windows opened onto a public square below, where people might wait for hours, craning their necks, hoping to glimpse our Lady in the guise of the Sky-Goddess, her silver hair curled elaborately to frame her white face, kept lovely with paint and potions.

“An earthshaking,” I croaked, struggling upright. “Was anyone hurt?”
“Minor injuries,” replied the Healer. “No casualties within the strong stone and mortar of our city.”

 I still held the vase over my head to throw at my sister. I blinked, then lowered the vase to the table: It was perfect.  I moved it in to view every side, admiring the red flowers and lively brown swallows adorning it.

Anxiously, I boarded the ship rowed by twenty-six slaves. I had never traveled beyond the sister-cities. My Brightest-Shining aunt spilled her stomach into the sea for the entire day’s journey, but I felt fine, and watched, delighted, as a pod of dolphins kept pace beside the boat. The ship’s young commander leaned against the prow of the ship and flexed, gazing out at the sapphire sea beneath the ship’s mastheads–a dragonfly and a butterfly. He claimed the dolphins were proof that the Sea-Goddess protected his ship.

“Ah, Qerasija’s kilt.” Old Sheran sighed, and bade me finger the wool, which was fine and time-worn. The ancient ceremonial garment had been pulled up, musty, its crimson and gold flounces faded, from a box deep within the sanctuary.

I turned to see Xanthe the Sea-Hag–the oldest living person in either of the sister-cities, approaching my Aunt and Governor Bansibara. Xanthe’s flesh looked nearly as dark and rough as her oxskin loincloth. She wore sacred symbols of the Sea-Goddess etched in ink upon her forehead. Three naked, brown youths bearing offerings of dolphin, mackerel, and tunny followed in her wake.

Ancient Sites in Santorini, Part 2 (Ancient Thira)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 13, 2012 3:24 pm

    Hmmm . . . is there another or maybe a eries of eruptions in Amerin’s future? Gorgeous image, want more – and I am curious to see how this trip makes it’s way into your story.

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