150 years ago, in early January 1866, the first precursory phenomena (earthquakes, gas leaks, coast sinking) signified the beginning of the 6th and largest subaerial eruption of the Kamenis volcano.
This eruption will last until October 1870 and will build up the biggest part of today’s Nea Kameni island. However, the most interesting characteristic of this eruption was not in its size, length, type or the depositional mechanisms of the volcanic products. What makes this eruption exceptionally interesting is the level of development of natural, historical and social sciences at the time of its occurrence which, in conjunction with the political and social environment in Europe at the time, causes international interest and coincides with, or creates, a series of events that will play an important role in the development of sciences and Santorini itself.
During the multiple events of 1860, the construction of the Suez Canal, the communication boost, the expansion of imperialist forces in the Mediterranean and the rest of the world, the Cretan revolution and the blow-up of Arkadimonastery in 1866, the struggles of Egypt and Algeria, the Eastern Question and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, two very important events take place in Santorini. The first is the volcanic eruption of 1866, and second is the discovery of the prehistoric buildings in Thirasia, which was brought by the intense exploitation of the Theran pumice quarries for the hydraulic projects of the Mediterranean. These indicents created a major international interest which attracted scientists, diplomats and military to the island.
It is the infant period for geosciences, mainly of the branches of general Geology and Paleontology. Archaeology is linked with these sciences through the ongoing paleolithic excavations in France and Spain.
The detailed observation, study and recording of the eruption of 1866-1870, the study of the structure of the Santorini volcanoes and the excavations in Thera and Therasia at the same time, constitute a methodological culmination of new dynamic sciences. The tephra layers and their stratigraphic sequence, the buildings and the findings that date them, the use of chemical methods, the evolutionism and positivism, are science innovations that spread between the waves caused by the warships and the rival European imperialist powers.
The archaeological discovery of the Late Cycladic house in Therasia under the ashes (aspa) is realized with the use of novel for the period technological methods. Under the noise of the Kameni eruptions, a breakthrough collaboration between geologists and archaeologists develops, one of the first cases of interdisciplinary cooperation and joint evaluation approach. The Cycladic house was initially excavated by Nomikos and Alafouzos, followed shortly after by Fouque accompanied by the french and greek scientific committee. This first excavation of Therasia paved the way for the following prehistoric excavations for the Aegean, as it occured before Troy, Knossos and Mycenae.
During the same period, the study of the geological structure of Santorini has led Fouque to adopt the dialectic – evolutionary thinking method and employ it for the interpetation of the evolution of the area, a very important step for geological thinking.
For a few years, Thera and Therasia exhibited acute and concentrated activities, asking for their explanation and integration to the historical and epistemological framework. These phenomena revealed the evolution paths and explosive development of epistemological forms and modes, within the generalised series of conflicts in the Eastern Mediterranean.
For all the previous reasons, it was decided to organize the NEMO 2016 International Conference in order not only to highlight the afforementioned conjunction of events, but also to demonstrate the path towards scientific maturity, the fields of interest, the political forces that were in the spotlight, the economic hopes and the new social forces and teams that were developed within the general framework (collectors, travelers, schools, monastic orders…). The Conference aims to bring into site the above issues through interdisciplinarity, highlighting the accomplishments of Geological, Volcanological, Historic-Archaeological and Social Sciences in Santorini, from 1866 until present.
Probing the Santorini Volcano for 150 years (1866 - 2016)
3 - 5 November 2016, Santorini
23 years of continuous presence
in the Greek tourist and convention scene
Copyright 2016 Heliotopos Ltd