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(both: thēr`ə), volcanic island (1991 pop. 9,360), c.30 sq mi (80 sq km), SE Greece, in the Aegean Sea. One of the Cyclades, Thíra is also known as Santorini, for St. Irene, the protector of the island. It is a tourism center noted for its wine. Pumice stone and powdered tufa are exported. It was the site of an enormous ancient volcanic explosion rivaling that of TamboraTambora
, active volcano, N Sumbawa, Nusa Tenggara Barat prov., Indonesia, rising to 9,255 ft (2,821 m). The volcano's 1815 eruption was one of the most destructive in historical times, killing an estimated 50,000–90,000 people, destroying the kingdoms of Tambora and
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 (and dwarfing that of KrakatoaKrakatoa
or Krakatau
, volcanic island, c.5 sq mi (13 sq km), W Indonesia, in Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra; rising to 2,667 ft (813 m). A momentous volcanic explosion on Aug.
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According to tradition, the island was first settled by Phoenicians and later by Laconians under the leader Thera. In the Bronze Age, Thera came under the influence of Crete (see Minoan civilizationMinoan civilization
, ancient Cretan culture representing a stage in the development of the Aegean civilization. It was named for the legendary King Minos of Crete by Sir Arthur Evans, the English archaeologist who conducted excavations there in the early 20th cent.
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), but a devastating volcanic eruption (c.1645 B.C.) buried the island's settlements and threw massive amounts of dust into the earth's atmosphere, affecting the weather worldwide. The island was resettled and later occupied (9th cent. B.C.) by the DoriansDorians,
people of ancient Greece. Their name was mythologically derived from Dorus, son of Hellen. Originating in the northwestern mountainous region of Epirus and SW Macedonia, they migrated through central Greece and into the Peloponnesus probably between 1100 and 950 B.C.
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. In 631 B.C. colonists from the island founded CyreneCyrene
, ancient city near the northern coast of Africa, in Cyrenaica (now E Libya). It was a Greek colony founded (c.630 B.C.) by Aristoteles of Thera, who became king of Cyrene as Battus. For eight generations the monarchs were alternately named Battus and Arcesilas.
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 in N Africa.

Excavations in the E Mediterranean show that ash from the ancient eruption spread over Anatolia and parts of Egypt, and that the tsunami caused by the eruption reached the shores of what is now Israel. It is theorized by some experts that the effects of the eruption were the catalyst for the collapse of Minoan civilization in the subsequent two centuries. Excavations at a Minoan site on Thíra have uncovered many well-preserved frescoes. Some controversial theories have equated ancient Thera with AtlantisAtlantis
, in Greek legend, large island in the western sea (the Atlantic Ocean). Plato, in his dialogues the Timaeus and the Critias, tells of the high civilization that flourished there before the island was destroyed by an earthquake.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(or Thera; also Santorin), a group of volcanic islands in the Aegean Sea, in the Cyclades archipelago, part of Greece. Their area is about 80 sq km. The largest island of the group is Thira (74 sq km), the remains of a submerged volcano. The island of Kaimeni has an active volcano, which erupted in the 19th century. The islands are composed of lavas, tuffs, and slags. Pumice is quarried on the islands, and there are also vineyards. The islands’ main port is Thira.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.