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Santorini treasures on view again

Santorini treasures on view again.

Holiday visitors to the Greek island of Santorini this summer will now be able to see one of the most important archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Greece has reopened the Akrotiri archaeological site on the holiday island of Santorini, which was closed nearly seven years ago when the roof collapsed, killing a Welsh holiday visitor.

The culture ministry said in a statement that the bronze-age town at Akrotiri will open this week after a new roof was erected to shelter the entire site of the excavation.

Akrotiri was a major urban centre in the Aegean until its destruction by a volcanic eruption in the 17th century BC. It was buried under ash and pumice which has helped protect and preserve the buildings and their contents.

Visitors on a Santorini holiday can now see four-storey houses and many of the treasures, including spectacular frescoes, terracotta vases and bronze vessels.

Tourism leaders on Santorini were angry at delays in reopening the site after rebuilding work was complete. Officials said reopening plans were bogged down in red tape following delays in signing health and fire safety certificates.

The original 'bioclimate' roof, which collapsed in September 2005, has now been completely dismantled and a new roof erected with reinforced columns and earthquake proof bearings.

The Santorini site of Akrotiri is considered one of the finest and best preserved archaeological finds in the whole of Greece. The Minoan town remained untouched until it was discovered in the 1860s.

Archaeologists found paved lanes lined with three-storey houses with an elaborate plumbing system. Houses were full of artifacts including large, unbroken vessels and storage jars. As at Pompeii, in Italy, the finds were of an extraordinary state of preservation as a result of being buried under tons of ash.

Last year, prison sentences were imposed on eight people for the part they played in the roof collapse on the Santorini holiday island site.

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