Quad bikes aside our main reason for going to Santorini was to see Akrotiri and the wall paintings. Akrotiri was preserved under the ash when Thira last blew up. The remains are Minoan, so around 4000 years old, wonderfully preserved, and not over (wrongly) restored like Knossos. Most of the stuff from Akrotiri is domestic, from houses and clearly village type industry (there is a mill stone and jars to store flour, presumably for sale). All fairly recently excavated and the work is still going on. Obviously it is contemporary with the Minoan stuff on Crete and elsewhere since the Thira event pretty much ended Minoan culture. The Minoans sailed the Agean and Mediterranean seas, traded as far as Egypt and the mainland of Greece. On Malta there are remains that are very reminiscent of Minoan culture, but it’s hard to tell in which direction the influence went. It may well be that both were influenced by something earlier.
To give a sense of how old this stuff is, it predates Mycenae, is older than most of the stuff in Egypt. The language and script has never been translated. Much of what is known of the Minoans is known from the wall paintings, many of which as you can see are wonderfully preserved.
Ended by what was probably the largest explosion in human times. It is almost impossible to imagine the scale of the event, the island of Santorini is the largest fragment of what remains of Thera. This is believed by some to be the site of Atlantis, others believe that the explosion at Thera was the origin of the Atlantis myths, or the origin of the Flood myths which are common to so many cultures in the region (and further afield).
The truth of this is unknown and probably unknowable. What is clear, however, is the fascination of looking at the clear remains of what is described as a prehistoric culture. The village or town at Akrotiri is incredibly sophisticated for a bronze age settlement. The wall paintings are wonderful. We loved the detail in the rigging on the ships. We enjoyed the way the paintings of the acrobats (possibly bull dancers) echoed the postures and body movements of the monkeys (they do look a lot like barbary apes so our guess is that they were endemic in Minoan times). Many of the wall paintings appear to depict day to day life in ancient Akrotiri with dolphins in the sea and antelopes in the hills.