Thera is the ancient name for both the island of Santorini in the Greek Cyclades and the name of the volcano which famously erupted on the island in the middle Bronze Age and covered Akrotiri, the most important settlement, in pumice and volcanic ash, thereby perfectly preserving the Bronze Age town.

Early Settlement

The earliest evidence of settlement on the island at Akrotiri (named after the nearby modern village) dates back to the mid-fifth millennium BCE when a small fishing and farming community established itself on a coastal promontory. By the third millennium BCE the presence of rock-cut burial chambers, pottery and stone vases and figurines suggest a period of significant growth. The marble used for these vessels probably came from the nearby islands of Paros and Naxos and together with finds of Theran pumice stone (used as a polish abrasive) suggest the presence of inter-island trade. Wood and food goods were also probably exchanged at this time, not only throughout the Cyclades but also with the Greek mainland and Crete.

Around 2000 BCE the settlement expanded further, and a disused cemetery was filled and constructed upon - both the fill containing pottery shards from large amphorae and black/brown burnished pottery (Kastri style) finds suggest healthy Aegean trade relations were in existence. Being strategically well-placed on the copper trade route between Cyprus and Minoan Crete, Akrotiri also became an important centre for metal work, as is evidenced by finds of moulds and crucibles.

Akrotiri's prosperity came to a sudden end with the massive and cataclysmic eruption of the island's volcano.

Urbanisation & Disaster

From 2000 to 1650 BCE Akrotiri became more urbanised with paved streets and extensive drainage systems. Quality pottery was mass produced and decorated with lines, plants and animals. Metallurgy and other crafts (particularly those related to the maritime industries) became more specialised. In this period there is also evidence of repair and rebuilding projects following earthquake destruction.

Akrotiri's prosperity came to a sudden end with the massive and cataclysmic eruption of the island's volcano. Preceded by earthquakes of a magnitude of 7 on the Richter scale which destroyed the town and created 9m high tidal waves, the eruption itself probably occurred a few days later and released an estimated 15 billion tons of magma into the atmosphere, making it the largest volcanic eruption of the last 10,000 years. The entire island was buried in a thick layer of ash, Trianda on Rhodes was destroyed, 7cm of ash covered sites in northern Crete, Anatolia suffered from the ash fall-out and even ice-cores in Greenland demonstrate the far-reaching effects of the eruption. The precise date of the event is much debated amongst scholars with wildly different estimates vigorously defended in order to support various hypotheses for other events such as the destruction of Minoan palaces or Mycenaean imperialistic ambitions in the Aegean. The most agreed upon date ranges somewhere between 1650 and 1550 BCE (with ice-core and carbon-dating studies suggesting the earlier date).

Following the eruption of Thera, the town of Akrotiri was completely covered in volcanic ash and thereby remained extremely well preserved; for example, through negative casting it has been possible to identify usually perishable items such as wooden furniture, most commonly stools and beds. However, unlike at Pompeii where life seems frozen by the disastrous eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, at Akrotiri there were no casualties found at the site and there is evidence of some attempt to clear rubble which suggests that there was a short gap between the earthquakes and the eruption and many residents had already abandoned the town before the final cataclysm. The site remained hidden from sight until its systematic excavation from 1967 CE.

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The well-planned town has squares and wide streets. Buildings were of two or three stories with flat roofs supported by a central wooden column. Architectural features in common with those in the Minoan civilization include a large hall, lustral basins, ashlar masonry, horns of consecration and the occasional lightwell.

Architecture & Art

Interestingly, almost all of the buildings excavated at Akrotiri have scenes painted on the interior walls in one or more of their rooms, illustrating that it was not only the elite who had such artwork in their homes. Fresco subjects and style were much influenced by the Minoan civilization - religious processions, goddesses, lilies, crocuses etc. and by the later Mycenaean civilization on the Greek mainland - griffins and boars' tusks helmets. More local themes such as girls gathering saffron, seascapes and fishing activities were also popular as were exotic animals such as antelopes and monkeys. Many rooms were completely covered in painted depictions of landscape scenes attesting to a love of nature and creating a powerful visual impact which transports the viewer beyond the confines of the room.

In addition to Fresco subject matter, other finds such as Cretan and Mycenaean pottery, seal impressions using Minoan iconography, Minoan clay loom weights, Canaanite jars, the use of the Minoan Linear A script and items of Egyptian origin (e.g.: ivory and ostrich eggshells) attest to Akrotiri's continued importance as an important trading centre with contacts throughout the Aegean.

Although the date of the event is difficult to fix, the effect of the disaster is clearly evident in physical archaeological remains but also in more intangible terms. It has been suggested that the eruption of Thera may be the origin of the Atlantis myth - the destruction of an island and with it the loss of an advanced civilization. From the point of view of Greeks in the so-called Dark Ages (from c. 1100 BCE) the Minoan/Mycenaean-influenced community on Thera may well have appeared as a golden age, a time when cultural and artistic achievements were greater than in the present time but in just a few days consigned to history by Nature's whim.

Ancient Thera

The second most important historic period in the history of Santorini is connected with Ancient Thera, which represents a great ancient civilization. Ancient Thera is located on the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain which lies on the east of Prophet Elias Mountain and separates the coastal villages of Perissa and Kamari . It is about 365 meters high and so it constitutes an excellent observation spot on the southeastern Aegean Sea and its steep slopes offer natural fortification. This strategic position was the ideal place for the Lacedaemonian colonists to build their town. They arrived in the 8 th century BC along with their king Theras and named the island Thera in his honor. At this spot there were also several building materials and the only natural springs on the island. This fortified location was later appreciated by the Ptolemaic dynasty and in the 4 th century BC it was the naval and military base of Egypt.

The excavations in Mesa Vouno Mountain, which started in 1896 by a German baron and continued in 1961 by Greek archaeologists, revealed a settlement of the Hellenistic Period. There was a main paved road, many smaller paths and a drainage system. The public buildings were made of limestone, whereas the private ones of small, unsymmetrical stones. Two cemeteries, a theatre , markets , pagan temples , Christian churches , baths and more public buildings have also been discovered and indicate a sophisticated society where religion played an important role. Thera was the religious and commercial center of the island.

Art wasn’t vastly cultivated since the Spartans were conservative people that didn’t encourage the development of arts and education. However, the archaeological excavations have revealed remarkable artifacts of ceramics and plastic arts. Despite being an abstinent and conservative society, it was affected by the cultural developments and had commercial ties with the rest of the Cycladic islands, islands of the northern Aegean, Crete, Cyprus, mainland Greece, Corinth and even North Africa. In addition, Thera was one of the first places to adopt the Phoenician alphabet as the basis of Greek writing. A long period of drought led the people of Thera to create their unique colony in Africa in 630 BC, the Ancient City of Cyrene, which was a brilliant civilization that shined in arts and education

Through centuries the ancient city of Thera went through glorious and turbulent times as well it was inhabited and conquered by various civilizations. Its decline began at the end of the 3 rd century AD, when the residents gradually started dwelling on the coasts of the island as they offered a more convenient everyday life.

Today, visitors can feel this bygone glory by exploring a large part of Ancient Thera that has been excavated. A tour at the archaeological site on the top of Mesa Vouno Mountain also provides magnificent views on the sparkling Aegean Sea. In addition, a great collection of statues, clay figurines, pots, vases and other objects and artifacts can be found in the Archaeological Museum of Fira, which is well worth a visit for the unique finds it exhibits. Finally, one kouros (ancient Greek statue of a young man) known as Apollo of Thera, which dates back to the 6 th century BC, is at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Two more of them, from the 7th century BC, can be admired in the Archaeological Museum of Fira, too.

Thera - History

The human presence on the island seems to be existed since the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C. The excavation at Akrotiri (photo below) has confirmed that man’s activity on the island continues until the eruption of the volcano in around 1600 B.C., which entirely buried the island beneath very thick layers of pozzuolona. All traces of human activity vanished from the island until the end of the 13th century B.C.

According to Herodotus, the island was initially called Strongyle (the Round one). Later, because of its beauty, it was called Kalliste (the Fairest one). The Phoenicians came to Kalliste and there they settled. After the Phoenicians, the Lacedaemonians arrived and gave the island the name of their leader, Theras.

In the 9th century B.C. Thera, became an important point on the communication route between the East and the West of that era and adopted the Phoenician alphabet for writing the Greek language.

In about 630 B.C., Therans reached the north coast of the African continent where they founded Cyrene (today Shahhat, Libya), the only Theran colony (photo below).

During the Classical period in Greece (5th and 4th century B.C.) Thera did not play an important role in Hellenic events. During the Peloponesian War Thera sided with Sparta, as expected.

In Hellenistic times the island’s strategic position made Thera a precious base from which the warring campaigns of the successors of Alexander the Great were launched in the Aegean.

Within the Roman Empire, Thera was nothing more than an insignificant small island. However, Christianity reached early the island and an organized church was already existed by the 4th century A.C.

The island was of neither political nor military significance in Byzantine times although Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118) founded the church of Panagia Episkopi at Gonia.

After the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade (1204) the Duchy of Naxos was founded and Thera became the seat of one of the four Catholic Bishops of the Duchy.

According to Santorini history, the name Santorini was given at that time by the Crusaders after the church of Aghia Irini (Santa Irene) which some say was at Perissa and others say was at Riva on Thirasia.

In the years of Frankish rule (1207-1579) although Santorini experienced the development of cotton cultivation and viticulture, the island suffered as much from piratical raids as from the rivalries between the local Latin rulers or between the Duke and the Sultan.

The Turkish dominion (1579-1821) resulted in the abolition of piracy and the development of international trade. The Santorinians created close contacts with the great harbours of the Eastern Mediterranean (Alexandria, Constantinople, Odessa) where they founded important communities.

In 1821, Santorini with its shipping strength, took part in the fight for independence from the Turks, and in 1830 became part of the independent Greek state.

Up until the beginning of the 20th century shipping, textiles, tomato production and viticulture were all flourishing.

The change from sail to steam-driven ships and also the transportation of the island’s factories to mainland Greece had a great effect on the island’s economy.

After the 1956 earthquake there was a huge decrease in the population and an economic catastrophe.

Towards the end of the 70’s tourism began to develop, bringing economic relief to the island.

Quick History: The Thera Eruption


You may recognize this vibrant view off the coast of the Santorini Islands in Greece from a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, computer desktop display, or even a friend&rsquos Instagram travels. Peering into this scene of bliss and tranquility, you may be surprised to learn that thousands of years ago, these same islands experienced a devastating volcanic eruption 100 times more powerful than that of Pompeii &mdash the Thera Eruption.

In c. 1500 B.C., the island, known then as Thera, was home to members of the Minoan civilization. The years of 3000 B.C. - 1100 B.C. marked the Bronze Age, a time when civilization flourished with new technology and set the trend for using bronze. To this day, the land holds proof of the Minoan civilization&rsquos advancements when it came to building complexes, tools, artwork, writing methods, trade networks, and even elaborate plumbing systems.

The main hub of the land &mdash a city which was later named &ldquoKnossos&rdquo by British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans &mdash held immaculately built palaces which were believed to host ceremonial and political events at the time. The Minoan people&rsquos innovations were evidence that their civilization was on an incline, surpassing their previous age&rsquos milestones left and right. However, bigger matters soon took to the main stage, violently and without much warning.

(Photo: Present-day remains of the Palace of Knossos, located in the ruined Minoan city of Knossos.)

It&rsquos possible that some inhabitants of the island suspected the long-dormant volcano&rsquos eruption to come and evacuated on time. But for those who did not survive the unleashed lava, rock, and ash, there&rsquos no doubt that the aftermath upended the Minoan civilizations and beyond. The volcano&rsquos wrath &mdash in tandem with the earthquakes and tsunamis that followed &mdash shattered the major city of Knossos and damaged other settlements, like Akrotiri (which has since been excavated - see photo below).

(Photo: The settlement of Akrotiri has been excavated since 1967, and regularly undergoes maintenance with the help of international volunteers.)

Although there are no written records of the eruption from that time period, geologists think the Thera Eruption could be the strongest explosion ever witnessed, mirroring the energy of hundreds of atomic bombs in the fraction of a second. Proof of volcanic destruction was found over 800 miles away from Thera &mdash across the Mediterranean Sea, all the way onto the lands of Egypt and Israel.

(Photo: The Tempest Stele was erected by Egyptian pharaoh Ahmose I during the 18th Dynasty of Egypt, c. 1550 B.C.)

Some archaeologists even claim that the famous Egyptian artifact known as the Tempest Stele seems to depict the devastation of the volcano&rsquos eruption. The ancient hieroglyphs on the block of calcite describe a great storm striking Egypt, destroying places of worship and pyramids in the Theban region.

Regardless of this artifact&rsquos depictions, the Museum of World Treasures houses a souvenir of volcanic rock from the Thera Eruption of the 16th century B.C.

(Photo: Volcanic Rock from Thera Eruption, 16th century B.C., on display at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, Kansas.)

Interested in seeing this piece of history in person? Double check our hours by clicking here, then come visit when you can! We&rsquod love to see you and point you in the direction of this noteworthy object on display.

Thera - History

Event Details

Entries must be received by July 1, 2021 Phi Alpha Theta awards six prizes annually for outstanding papers written by members of the honor society: •The George P. Hammond Prize of $500

Event Details

Entries must be received by July 1, 2021

Phi Alpha Theta awards six prizes annually for outstanding papers written by members of the honor society:

•The George P. Hammond Prize of $500 for the best paper by a graduate student member of Phi Alpha Theta
•The Lynn W. Turner Prize of $500 for the best paper by an undergraduate student member of Phi Alpha Theta
•The Nels Andrew Cleven Founder’s Paper Prize Awards: two undergraduate and two graduate awards of $400 each for superior papers submitted by student members of Phi Alpha Theta

The essays should combine original historical research on significant subjects, based on source material and manuscripts if possible, with good English composition and superior style.

PAPERS SHOULD NOT EXCEED 25 TYPEWRITTEN DOUBLE-SPACED PAGES IN LENGTH (excluding bibliography), and must be printed in single-sided format only. Entries that do not comply with these guidelines will be disqualified. Papers submitted for consideration should be organized in a form similar to articles published in The Historian with footnotes, spelling, and punctuation conforming as nearly as possible to the rules of A Manual of Style (10th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937, or later). A bibliography must be included with the submitted paper. Students should eliminate footers or headers, bearing the student’s name from individual pages of the paper, but pages must be consecutively numbered.

The title page of the paper must include: the applicant’s name, mailing address, phone number and email address, as well as the college/university name, GRADUATE OR UNDERGRADUATE STATUS, and year which s/he joined Phi Alpha Theta. All papers should be clearly marked as entries for the 2021 Phi Alpha Theta Paper Prize Award.


If suitable for publication, the winners may be offered the opportunity of having their articles published in a future issue of The Historian. Submit the following items:

•Submit five (5) hard copies of each manuscript
•A letter of recommendation from either the Faculty Advisor or History Department Chair indicating the applicant’s chapter affiliation and whether the individual is a graduate or an undergraduate student (Note: Those recommending papers should include their email address in their letter of recommendation).

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all required documentation is received by the competition deadline. THE COMPETITION COMMITTEE CANNOT INDIVIDUALLY CONFIRM RECEIPT OF STUDENT SUBMISSIONS, SO PLEASE SEND YOUR PACKET OF PAPERS VIA REGISTERED MAIL IF YOU REQUIRE VERIFICATION OF DELIVERY. Incomplete applications or those RECEIVED after the deadline or by individuals whose membership in Phi Alpha Theta cannot be verified will not be considered for the competition.

Christopher M. Kennedy, Ph.D.
Office of the Provost
Francis Marion University
P.O. Box 100547
Florence, SC 29502-0547

It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all required documentation is received by the competition deadline. Incomplete applications or those submitted after the deadline or by individuals whose membership in Phi Alpha Theta cannot be verified will not be considered for the competition.

Thera Volcano: Scientists Have Dated This Catastrophic Ancient Volcanic Eruption Using Tree Rings

More than 3,400 years ago, a catastrophic eruption of the volcano Thera took place on the Greek island of Santorini. It was one of the largest volcanic events in Earth's recorded history.

The eruption blew a vast hole in the island and buried the settlement at Akrotiri in a layer of ash more than 130-feet deep. Related earthquakes and tsunamis devastated nearby islands, while its environmental impacts were felt in Egypt, modern-day Turkey and maybe even in places as far away as North America and China. To top it all off, many historians believe that the event contributed to the decline of Minoan culture, the dominant civilization in the region at the time.

Researchers have long argued over when the ancient eruption took place, with archaeological and radiocarbon dating methods differing in their results. But now, a study of tree rings, published in the journal Science Advances, has cast new light on the debate.

The accurate dating of the Thera eruption could have important implications for tying together the history of the region, according to the researchers. In fact, narrowing down when it happened is so critical to Mediterranean archaeology that whole conferences have taken place to debate the issue.

"The volcano erupts and represents one short moment in time," Charlotte Pearson, an assistant professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, said in a statement.

"If you can date precisely when that moment is, then whenever you find evidence of that moment at any archeological site, you suddenly have a very precise marker point in time&mdashand that's really powerful for examining human/environmental interactions around that time period."

Evidence from human artifacts such as written records and pottery retrieved from digs had suggested the eruption occurred somewhere between 1570 and 1500 B.C. However, the radiocarbon dating of pieces of trees, grains and legumes found just below the layer of volcanic ash on Santorini indicated that the eruption took place around 1600 B.C.

For the latest study, the researchers used the latest radiocarbon techniques on trees in the United States and Ireland that were alive before, during and after the time that Thera was thought to have erupted (the period 1500 to 1700 B.C.).

These trees add a growth ring every year, each of which contains traces of radioactive carbon isotopes which decay at a steady rate and can be detected by dating technologies. This means these tree rings act as a kind of time capsule of environmental history stretching back thousands of years.

Massive eruptions like the one at Thera eject so much material into the atmosphere that they can cool the Earth. In exceptionally cold years, the type of trees that the team tested&mdashIrish oaks and bristlecones&mdashproduce growth rings that are narrower than usual.

By analyzing instances of these narrower rings, which could indicate a huge eruption, the researchers dated the Thera event to someplace between 1600 B.C. and 1525 B.C.

"There's been a huge debate about the timing of the Thera eruption and radiocarbon versus archeological dating," Pearson said. "Our data indicate that radiocarbon dating can overlap with various lines of archeological evidence for the eruption date."

Pearson hopes that future research will be able to more accurately pin down a particular year for the eruption.

Debate still rages over date of Thera eruption at ancient Akrotiri

During the height of the Greek Bronze Age, a volcano erupted on the ancient Greek island of Thera (modern Santorini). The violent eruption sent six times more magma and rock into the Earth’s atmosphere than the notorious Krakatoa eruption in 1883.

Thera is located in the Aegean Sea, and the effects of the eruption would have had catastrophic effects on the entire Eastern Mediterranean region. The town of Akrotiri, located on the island itself, was buried under metres of volcanic ash, preserving the town in much the same way as Pompeii was preserved by Vesuvius (although the residents of Akrotiri had the forewarning of seismic tremors and evacuated prior to the eruption, for no evidence of bodies has yet been found there, unlike at Pompeii).

The remains of Akrotiri were excavated from the 1960’s by Greek archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos. As early as 1939, Marinatos claimed that the eruption of Thera was responsible for the downfall of the Minoan civilisation on the island of Crete, about 110 kilometres south of Thera. There has been heated debate over this theory ever since.

One major problem with the idea involves looking at pottery styles. The most recent pottery style found in the destroyed Minoan palaces was Late Minoan 1B. Cross-dating between the Minoan sequence and the well-established Egyptian chronology dates Late Minoan 1B pottery (and hence the destruction of the palaces) to around 1450 BCE.

Therefore if the eruption of Thera was responsible for the palatial destruction, it must have occurred at this time. The problem is that the most recent pottery style found at Akrotiri was Late Minoan 1A, dated to around 1500BCE. This led most scholars to conclude that the eruption occurred around this date and was not responsible for the Minoan collapse which occurred later, around 1450 BCE.

However, there are some who do not assume that the end of settlement at Akrotiri coincided with the eruption. It has been proposed that the settlement could have been abandoned years or even decades before the eruption. Akrotiri was, in the first instance, destroyed by earthquakes, and signs of reoccupation and clearance of parts of the town prior to the pumice fall have been cited as evidence for this idea. Most scholars seem to think that there was only around two years between the evacuation and the eruption though.

The effects of such a massive eruption would have been felt across a wide section of the planet, and this is supported by deep-sea cores from locations including the Mediterranean Sea and Crete containing ash found by laboratory analysis to be from the Thera eruption. As such, dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) and ice core samples from distant sites have both been used to attempt to obtain an absolute date for the eruption.

Researchers from Queens University in Belfast found that oak trees living in the bogs of Ireland had narrow growth rings for the decade following 1628 BCE. This date is also supported by the tree-ring sequence of the California bristlecone pine. The researchers argued that these anomalies were caused by a cloud of volcanic dust from the Thera eruption that stunted growth. But the link between the narrow growth-rings and the eruption is tenuous, and does not provide strong evidence for this date all by itself.

Ice cores demonstrate peaks of high acidity caused by major eruptions, and the acidity levels of an ice core from Greenland suggested a similar eruption date of around 1645 BCE. However, a fragment of tephra (volcanic ash) from the ice core in question was shown by further analysis to be unassociated with that particular eruption.

Radiocarbon dating has proven much more effective in establishing an absolute date. A study led by archaeologist Sturt Manning from Cornell University obtained radiocarbon dates from 127 samples of wood, bone and seed from Akrotiri and other Aegean sites. Following calibration and cross-checking among three different laboratories, they date the eruption to between 1660 and 1613 BCE, within 95% confidence intervals.

In 2006, a team led by geologist Walter Friedrich of the University of Aarhus found an olive tree on Thera that had been buried alive by the eruption. Radiocarbon dating gave the tree’s date of death (and therefore the date of the eruption) as 1627-1600BCE at 95% confidence levels, which matches very neatly with the dates from Manning’s study.

The problem is that an eruption date of the early 17 th century BCE disagrees entirely with the well-established Egyptian historical chronology, which sets the eruption date at least a hundred years later. Late Minoan 1A pottery has been found in stratigraphic layers that Egyptian records date to later periods, and there is a style of Cypriot pottery found at Akrotiri that does not appear in Egypt until the 16 th century BCE.

So while the radiocarbon dates provide a strong case for dating the eruption of Thera to the early 17 th century BCE, the pottery finds and well-established Egyptian chronology cannot be discounted. Indeed, if the radiocarbon dates are taken to be the correct ones, the whole of Aegean Late Bronze Age chronology would necessarily be revised. The debate continues.

The History of Resistance Bands

A recent spate of travel has made access to heavy weights a near impossibility. Hotel and College gyms with dumbbells up to 30 kilos and in some cases, with not a barbell in sight have forced me to be inventive with my training. In the past such occurrences would have caused me a great inconvenience but thanks to the advice of a friend, I finally capitulated and bought a set of resistance bands.

Admittedly I’d been sceptical. Resistance bands for me, conjure up images up Charles Atlas-esque resistance training that although promising much, could not compete with actual weights. Nevertheless, my head has been turned, and although not a fully fledged convert to resistance training, I can’t deny how useful they’ve been recently. My very unexotic travels have however spurred my interest in the equipment. So in today’s post we’re going to examine the history of resistance bands. Where they came from, who popularised them and some useful tips on how to use them should you be stuck on your own travels.

The Early History of Resistance Bands

At this juncture it’s important for me to state that today’s article, though concerned with resistance bands, will crossover into the world of chest expanders and strand pullers ever so slightly. After all, the idea of using cables for resistance undoubtedly influenced the multi coloured elastic bands referred to in the introduction.

Now to date the first mention of a chest expander I’ve found to date comes from the 1851 Great Exhibition in Victorian England. A smorgasbord of sporting and medical equipment, the expander was marketed as a sort of pseudo medical device for Victorian men and women with weak chests. Unfortunately for us, we have no conception of how many sold, how they were used and, infuriatingly, how they actually looked (my historical researching skills at their finest here).

In the United States, a Swiss man named Gustav Gossweiler was granted a patent in 1896 for his resistance apparatus pictured below.

Now although this device was more akin to a Chest Expander in its design, it was nevertheless pivotal moment. Though Gossweiler patented this device in Switzerland the year before in 1895, it’s hard to discern whether he is the first inventor of this type of device. You see in England around the same time, the Whitely company, who would soon join forces with Eugen Sandow, were promoting their own expander similar to the Swiss man’s. And this is to say nothing of the use of therapeutic chest expanders during the 1880s.

The Age of Physical Culture

From the late 1890s onwards one sees chest expanders and strand pullers emerge as a prime product for mail order retail. Eugen Sandow and countless others put their names to a variety of devices based on the premise of cable resistance.

What is significant about this, in my opinion at least, is that the physical culturists helped normalise chest expanders and strand pullers for the general public. Whereas previously such devices were seen as medical apparatus, as evidence by the 1851 Exhibition where the chest expander was marketed for doctors, the physical culturists of the early twentieth century advertised the device specifically for those seeking to improve their physiques. In this way, the devices were promoted alongside dumbbells, barbells and Indian Clubs as one more device that lifters could use.

At this point however, we are going to diverge away from the history of chest expanders and strand pullers in the knowledge that they will make up an article in the future. Now we set our sights firmly on the elastic resistance bands currently in my travel bag.

A New Device is Born?

What is so frustrating about this particular topic is that its nigh on impossible to discover the first individual to market elastic resistance bands. The best I can, until someone corrects me, is to trawl through old online patents in search of something old. Luckily this hasn’t been a complete waste. In 1940, Raymond E Nilson was granted a patent for arguably the first elastic resistance band. What he lacked in artistic skills, Nilson perhaps made up for in ingenuity.

Although in existence, such devices hadn’t yet hit the gyms. In one of my favourite quotes, Titan recalled that bands could be found in sex parlours but not the gym during the 1950s and 60s. That being said, Thera Bands were introduced during this time and gained great traction in the physical therapy community and would eventually cross over into the athletic community.

But Come On…When did we get the Powerlifting Bands?

This is a question I can answer! I hope… According to that bastion of integrity, the internet, an American man and former Football Coach, Dick Hartzell introduced bought the light and heavy duty training bands found across gyms throughout the world. A coach from Youngstown, Dick patented the devices in the early 1980s and thanks to his connections within the world of football, was able to sell the products directly to some of the top teams within the NFL.

Aside from Football, Dick was also an avid strength enthusiast. A strong man in his own right, Hartzell was known to those within the powerlifting community as well. In 2006, Dave Tate noted Hartzell’s longevity within the powerlifting community and the reverence held for his brand of products. How Dick’s products first entered the domain of powerlifting is difficult to ascertain (this research is doing wonders for my self-confidence) but what we do know is that powerlifting gyms such as Westside Barbell were using bands in their training from the early 1990s, supposedly after Louie Simmons met with Hartzell.

As we all know, whenever Westside sneezed in the 1990s and early 2000s, the rest of the powerlifting community caught a cold. Safe to say that Simmons, using both his own and Hartzell’s ideas, helped popularise the training bands that have saved my ass on many a trip.

Useful Exercises with the Bands

For those seeking to use Therabands in their training, similar to those invented in the 1960s, Jim Stoppani’s video below will save me typing!

For our powerlifting friends, you can do no better than Mark Bell’s tutorials on the Rogue Fitness youtube channel. Bell’s a champion powerlifter, and by all accounts, one of the chillest guys in the sport. The below video details squatting with the bands, but if you’re interested, Rogue has a series dedicated to the bands

World History Archive / Alamy

Some 3,500 years ago, an event of cataclysmic proportions rocked the Mediterranean. The volcano at Thera (later known as the Greek island of Santorini) exploded with what is estimated at four to five times the eruptive force of Krakatoa in 1883, blowing a hole into the Aegean isle and sending out shock waves that, according to historians, would reverberate for centuries to come. The great seafaring Minoan civilization, the dominant Greek culture of the time, potentially withered away after clouds of ash enveloped its cities and great tsunami waves smashed its fleets. Stories of a world-shaking eruption linger in legends across the Mediterranean. For years, adventure-seeking archaeologists have even pored through Thera's geological record in search of the fabled lost city of Atlantis. Ancient Egyptian stela from roughly the same era chronicle a volcanic storm that "caused darkness in the Western region" and "annihilated" towns and temples alike. And some biblical scholars have even suggested Thera's destructive effects underlie the Old Testament's tales of God-sent plagues and devastation.

Prehistoric Thera Museum

One of the most important museums of Greece is the spectacular Museum of Prehistoric Thera that lies in the capital of Santorini, Fira. It is housed in a state-of-the-art, two-story building whose erection started in the beginning of the 1970s and it was finally offered to the public in 2000. The proponent of this museum was the standout Greek archeologist, Professor Spyridon Marinatos, who led the excavation works in the archaeological site of Akrotiri and prompted the creation of a museum in order to house the valuable finds from this major urban center that came to light, where a prominent regional civilization of the prehistoric world used to thrive during the Minoan Bronze Age.

The finds that are on display on the Prehistoric Museum of Thera come from the various excavations that were carried out on the island, such as at the settlements of Akrotiri and Potamos, rescue excavations at different sites on the island as well as some objects that were discovered by chance or handed over. The exhibits date back to the Late Neolithic Era up until the Cycladic Periods and are in excellent condition. Through the exhibits visitors can witness the progress of Thera in the Prehistoric Times unfolding before their eyes, as they bear testament to a brilliant course that made Thera on of the most significant islands of the Aegean during the 18th and 17th centuries BC.

Visitors to the museum, which is open daily (except Tuesdays in winter), can admire temporary exhibitions on the ground floor and four permanent exhibitions on the first floor. The first unit of them refers to the history of research at Thera, the second to the geology of the island, the third to the island’s history from the Late Neolithic to the Late Cycladic I Period and the last one to the heyday of the city at Akrotiri (mature Late Cycladic I Period, 17th century BC).

The Prehistoric Thera Museum can be considered an extension of the archaeological site of Akrotiri, where visitors can walk through the amazing, well-preserved prehistoric city, since it hosts many artifacts from there and, most importantly, the frescoes, the impressive mural paintings. These were found in both public and private edifices of Akrotiri and constitute one of the most incredible exhibits of the museum. They are colorful representations of nature and everyday life and give a valuable insight into the way of life back then and the environment. Among the items, there are also tools, utensils, marble figurines, pottery and some jewelry, since the inhabitants must have taken their precious objects with them when they left the island due to the looming volcanic eruption.

The rest of the collections, which are ordered chronologically, include Neolithic, Early and Middle Cycladic pottery, Early Cycladic metal artifacts and marble figurines which are numbered among the earliest pieces of the museum, as well as ancient items, like vases, ritual objects and bird jugs. Finally, the museum is in possession of fossils of bugs and plants that flourished before the human presence on Thera, including palm trees, olive leaves and schinus.