Here is the second book in the Travel the World in Books reading challenge. Technically, Akrotiri is not a country, but when I first decided that I was doing the Travel the World in Books reading challenge I decided that I would do all the countries on the list of the CIA World Factbook and Akrotiri is what’s listed after Afghanistan. Akrotiri is a UK sovereign base area.
On compiling research for this post, I am now not 100 percent certain that the Akrotiri I read about is the same as Akrotiri today. The one today seems to be on Cyprus, but the one I read about was on Thera/Santorini. Either way, it opened me up to a whole new thing that I had never read about so I was grateful to read about it. After all, typing in Akrotiri in the card catalog didn’t yield me very many results.
The book I read was Thera: Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean: Excavations at Akrotiri 1967-79 by Christos G. Doumas. This was, in some ways, a perfect book for me because when I was a kid I went through somewhat of a phase learning about Pompeii, so it was pretty interesting to learn about a similar event, one I had never even heard of before. Despite the fact that the city is older than Pompeii was, it wasn’t discovered until very recently (1960s) so I think that’s probably why it isn’t as well-known as Pompeii. And unlike Pompeii, the people of Akrotiri evacuated in time, though they aren’t really sure how people knew to leave.
As you can see from the map, it was quite a big place. While I have to admit that at times the book was a bit dry and boring, I do still feel that I learned quite a bit that I didn’t know before. An archeologist who worked on the dig though wrote it though, so that was kind of a cool aspect. Also, there were a lot of pictures and some of them were simply stunning, when you think about how old the artwork was that survived and how detailed it was and there’s just something beautiful in it. It’s also interesting to me to hear them speculating on what life was like then.
I would say this book is worth reading, but I’m not going to make an across the board recommendation. I think you definitely have to have an interest in history/buried cities/etc. since it does get pretty technical at times. But I think it was a pretty decent read. And I’ve learned so much that I did not know. It’s definitely expanding my horizons.
Of course after reading a book about a city buried by a volcano, I definitely had to watch the Doctor Who episode about Pompeii.