The island of Santorini and many other Greek islands have been populated with prehistoric boats and ships for at least 8000-9000 years. Some islands may have been reached earlier due to low water levels during the ice age. So one can assume that there were first settlements on Santorini since at least 3000-4000 BC. gave. Graves from around 2500 BC has already been found.
Bit by bit the island was populated and used for agriculture. Fishing and trade played an important role early on and the bay of the caldera was certainly used as a perfect natural harbor. The island's products were certainly wine, capers, saffron and possibly also minerals from the area around the port of Athinios. There you can still see tunnels of old mining facilities.
In the Minoan era, trade and local culture flourished and the island's wealth was reflected in almost modern buildings and a highly developed art. The people lived a very luxurious life and certainly attracted the envy of other islands. There are references to warlike events in preserved wall paintings. Contact with Crete was intense and influenced the style and culture of the island.
There must have been 5-7 settlements in Santorini, of which only the prehistoric settlement near Akrotiri was excavated by Spyros Marinatos from 1967 onwards, after studying older records from archaeologists who had already made discoveries in the same place.
Minoan culture on Santorini came to an abrupt end around 1627 BC. when the volcano erupted in the middle of the caldera. The Minoans had probably sensed the catastrophe and were warned by earthquakes. In any case, they might have managed to leave the island in time for its destruction. To date, no skeletons have been found in the excavations.
However, only a very small part of the settlement in Akrotiri was excavated.
Since the volcanic catastrophe was associated with enormous tsunamis, it is also not certain that the "Santorini" were not surprised on the ships at the time. The pyroclastic flow currents during the eruptions could have overwhelmed people, as they can still run for many kilometers above the sea surface with temperatures of 100-500 ° C and a speed of 100-200 km/h.
The tsunamis destroyed large coastal areas throughout the eastern Mediterranean. They also plunged the Minoan Empire on Crete into a crisis, which the mainland Greeks under Theseus (from Troizen) then used to overwhelm the Minotaur (= the Minoan superpower).
After that there were only Mycenaean remains on Crete. Santorini was forgotten because the entire island was covered with layers of pumice about 40-60 meters thick. Since the Minoans certainly also had trade relations with Egypt, reports about them were documented there.
Plato must have found these text sources and developed his idea of Atlantis from it, whose demise he saw as a punishment from the gods for immoral lifestyle of the Athenians.
Santorini was only resettled in ancient times and the ancient city of Thera was founded on the summit near Perisa. Life slowly returned to Santorini and sanctuaries and small towns were founded, some of which are still waiting for excavations.
In the Middle Ages the villages were further developed by the Venetians and forts built (Pyrgos, Emporio, Ia, Akrotiri, Thira). The danger of pirate attacks existed daily.
The life of the Santorini was poor and then they had to hand over part of their harvest to local feudal lords. That did not improve even in Turkish times. Those who could went to sea or emigrated.
Until the 1970s, Santorini was a poor island that was still suffering from the aftermath of the 1956 earthquake. It wasn't until around 1970 that tourism started slowly and many of the poor farmers at that time sold their property to hoteliers or they built themselves. Santorini is now the most famous island in Greece and those who invested in tourism in time are rich today.
In the meantime, tourism in Santorini is slowly coming into crisis. Too many hotels were built without the infrastructure being able to withstand such a mass of guests. There is an acute garbage problem, safety is questionable due to bad roads and insufficient medical care. Mass does not mean great financial success at the same time. You can see a lot of tourists coming from all-inclusive cruise ships. They clog the streets with the buses and, apart from a lot of garbage, leave little profit for the local population ...
The current Corona crisis has led to a total decline in tourism in 2020 and hopefully leads those responsible to rethink their tourism philosophy!