?? ????) is an old town on a hilltop of the 360 metre high Messavouno hill on the Grecian Santorini isle. Its name derives from the mythic sovereign of the Isle, Theras, and it was lived in from the ninth millennium BC to 726 AD. From 1895 Friedrich Hiller von Gaertringen studied the history of the town until 1904.
Today the antique Thera is open to the general population and can be accessed via a curvy path that begins at Kamari or via several footpaths from both sides of the hill. It was an almost 800-metre long and for its day particularly broad stretch of highway (between two and four metres), which stretched south-east and contained several impressive structures.
There was a small dead-end road branching off at right turns and at its end, high up on the mountain slope, was the head office of a military outpost. Approximately 200 meters of road, the town extends over an area of about 100 x 100 meters on an expansive platform high above the cliffs.
They are all built from the calcareous stone of the hill itself. Timber was scarce on the isle and was rarely used for construction. On the foot of the hill at the outskirts of today's Kamari, there was a graveyard that was used for almost as long as the old town.
It also had an as yet unexactly localised port, which allegedly had yards and shelters for seafarers and troops. The ancient Thera had two sea ports, Oia (Greek: ???, not to be mistaken for the contemporary Oia) and Elefsina (Greek: ????????), both at today's Kamari and Perissa. The town was an insignificant village on the south edge of the Cyclades in ancient time.
The town was established by Dorian Sparta settlers who recognised the value of its position on a crag. The Herodotus and Pausania tell of the mythic sovereign Theras, a descendant of the Penician sovereign Cadmus and descendant of the Emperor of Thebes, Autesion, who reigned over Sparta and Laconia in the name of his minor sons Eurysthenes and Procles.
When he was of full legal capacity, he established a new village on the Isle of Kalliste (ancient Greek: ????????), which was later called Thera after him (modern Greek: Thira, ????). The name was also given to the town, which has archeological remains from the ninth mill. As Herodotus writes of a seven-year dry spell around 630 BC that compelled the people of Thera to dispatch settlers to Cyrenaica in present-day Libya.
It was so prosperous that for a long time Thera had a good name as the parent of Cyrene. There is a found 760 coin collections from the sixth and sixth centuries B.C., showing a humble number of trading relations with Athens and Corinth in the western part and with Ionia and Rhodes in the eastern part.
It' s function shifted in the second half of the third millennium B.C., when the Ptolemaic navy was deployed for the whole Aegean Sea in the city' s port in Hisllenistic time. It has been fully reconstructed for the army commanders, the former ground plan has been superseded by a network of streets and impressive Peristyl house shaped structures have been built.
In the mid-1975 BC, the isle and the town were part of the Asian roman provinces in Rome, and although there were no high ranking officers on the isle, Thera was relatively wealthy and important, thanks to extensive building work and the fact that Therans succeeded in reaching high locations, among them twice the post of chief minister of the provinces.
During the first third of the third millennium the disintegration of the Roman Empire was also mirrored by the lack of records of the isle. Thera was again more often referred to as a bishopric city in the time of the Byzantines; until the fifth c. it was the only city on the isle of Santorini.
After a relatively small volcanic outburst in 726, Santorini erupted into a small stratum of stone and the town was abandoned soon after. Since there are few signs of the former occupation, the description of the town refers mainly to the Hellenic Gold Ages and later development.
There is some information about the part of the Ptolemaic soldier in the town, which is known from engravings. Initially only three officer and about 300 troops were based in Thera, but later other incumbents and retired officer moved there and significantly altered the town' s nature. The Greeks were Greeks from the continent and the share of Egypt's mercenary forces, who with their deities strongly affected the town' s cult religions, rose.
It is 110 metres long and 17 to 30 metres in width, following the contour of the hills. To the west of the hillside are the communal facilities; the sea to the east is totally open, as the apartments on this side are below the levels of the agrora.
Built in the 2. centurys on a hillside below the Hauptstraße, the theatre had about 1,500 seats and thus surpassed the city's own needs. On the foothills of the hilltop, the holy area surrounded a cave devoted to Hermes and Heracles. Beside the most important Apollo Karneto shrine a common stone shrine for the old Egypt deities was built in the third c. BC, from the second c. BC also a gym of the famous Mt. Ephheboi, which was built in the one.
The highest point of the town at the end of a dead end was an imposing edifice, probably the naval commander's outpost. The majority of the city's residents were living on the mountains. The archaeological remnants are scarce; before leaving the town, it had become less important and only a few remnants from its heyday remain.
Remarkable are engravings from the beginnings of the town, which were found in the shrine on the foothills of the hills. Coming from the period between the ninth and eighth centuries BC, they are among the oldest known uses of the Grecian script, which is derived from the Penenician one.
A forerunner of Grecian characters was still used in some cases. Included in the epigraphs are devotions of shrines to a multitude of deities from ancient Greece. The great diversity as well as the reference to many deities, which are not otherwise famous, are striking. It is also worth noting the incidence of smaller deities associated with the household, childbirth, children and child upbringing.
In this case, however, on the cliffs around the front square of the gym, where, according to the text, contests and holy ceremonies took place even before the building of the sport field. These lyrics are in a very early Greek version and therefore sometimes hard to understand.
There were found pottery relicts of the geometrical styles of the eighth and seventh cent. These are similar to the Naxos model, but the draft arrived later. From the second half of the seventh centuary came several, mostly severely destroyed statues, so-called "Daedal idols", which served as burial objects.
Some of the most popular relicts from ancient Thera are larger-than-life sculptures of young people, known as Couroi, also created in the second half of the seventh cent. BC. There were no fragments of pottery on the archipelago, so there was no singular stylization on it. The marbles as well as the art styles come from the isle of Naxos.
Its most beautiful sculpture is from the beginning of the sixth millennium BC and is known as Apollo of Thera. They were found in the graves below the town. Near ancient Thera there are two caverns, one of which seems to be another ancient shrine and the other either a place of cult or just a rubbish dump, according to how the many bone remnants and signs of cooking are used.