Thousands of years ago, on what is now the Greek island of Santorini, a mountain exploded in one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history. But scientists have had difficulty establishing exactly when the Minoan volcano Thera erupted – until now. An unusual source may be able to settle the debate from conflicting archaeological and radiocarbon analyses: the rings in trees that were alive at the time of the eruption. Pinning down the date of Thera’s eruption could tell us more about not just the event itself, but the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Egypt at this critical time. Now researchers have something akin to that marker. According to tree ring data, the eruption of Thera can be placed in the 16th century BCE – sometime between and , around 3, years ago. It’s not a super-precise date, but it does help narrow it down, because radiocarbon dating has placed it as early as between and BCE, while archaeological evidence has placed it between and BCE. But you might be surprised to learn these trees did not come from Minoa, or even the Mediterranean.
The great Minoan eruption of Thera volcano and the ensuing tsunami in the Greek Archipelago
The eastern Mediterranean has been the cradle of many great civilizations. The history of the area consisted of glorious battles, heroic acts, and the rise and fall of great civilizations. But, sometimes, natural hazards became the cause for a new classification of the political, as well as of the military status quo of the region. The enormous eruption of the submarine volcano at the Greek island of Thera Santorini during the Bronze Age, around BC, is such a natural hazard.
The tsunami generated by the eruption, literally wiped out the peace-loving Minoan civilization who inhabited the island of Crete. After the sea subsided, the configuration of the area was altered, and the decline of the Minoan principality on the Archipelago began.
Time’s Up! Dating the Minoan Eruption of Santorini: Acts of the Minoan Eruption Chronology Workshop, Sandbjerg, November Warburton, David A, David.
Labirint Ozon. Time’s Up! The volcanic eruption of Santorini was the greatest in historical times. Yet indirect natural science evidence suggested a date in the 17th century. The dating ceased to be indirect when branches of olive trees were found buried in the debris of the eruption. The radiocarbon Accelerator Mass Spectrometry AMS dating technique and the intcal04 calibration curve suggested a two-sigma range date between and BC.
The debate continues; the papers here cover the radiocarbon results, the ice cores, the geology, and the archaeology, offering in-depth access to a controversy linking the natural sciences and the humanities. Aside from volcanologists, it will interest scholars of Bronze Age Aegean archaeology, the chronology of the eastern Mediterranean in the second millennium BC, archaeological methodology, the principles of radiocarbon dating and its application to Bronze Age sources.
General introduction. Scientific technical organizing committee. David Warburton. Jan Heinemeier , Walter Ludwig Friedrich.
Time’s Up! Dating the Minoan eruption of Santorini
Papers by natural scientists, archaeologists, egyptologists and classicists discussing the newest evidence of the Santorini eruption. The papers fall into two sections. Contributors: Walter L. Betancourt, Max Bichler, Thomas M. Brogan, Peter M. McBirney, Floyd W.
On the enigma of dating the Minoan eruption of Santorini. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 21;(16) doi: /pnas
New analyses that use tree rings could settle the long-standing debate about when the volcano Thera erupted by resolving discrepancies between archeological and radiocarbon methods of dating the eruption, according to new University of Arizona-led research. Thera’s explosive eruption on Santorini more than 3, years ago buried the Minoan settlement on the island in a layer of ash and pumice more than feet 40 meters deep. The effects of the eruption were felt as far away as Egypt and what is now Istanbul in Turkey.
Archeologists have estimated the eruption as occurring sometime between and BC by using human artifacts such as written records from Egypt and pottery retrieved from digs. Other researchers estimated the date of the eruption to about BC using measurements of radiocarbon, sometimes called carbon, from bits of trees , grains and legumes found just below the layer of volcanic ash. By using radiocarbon measurements from the annual rings of trees that lived at the time of the eruption, the UA-led team dates the eruption to someplace between and , a time period which overlaps with the date range from the archeological evidence.
The current radiocarbon calibration curve that was developed over the past 50 years using tree rings extends 14, years into the past. At that time, the scientists needed to use chunks of wood that combined 10 to 20 years of a tree’s annual rings to have enough wood to test for radiocarbon. Work conducted at the UA Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory contributed substantially to the radiocarbon calibration curve currently in use worldwide.
Now radiocarbon testing requires just slivers of wood, so Pearson and her colleagues could test the annual growth rings of trees from back to BC—before, during and after the time Thera was thought to have erupted. What fell out of that was that the old calibration curve wasn’t precisely correct during this time frame. The paper, “Annual radiocarbon record indicates sixteenth century BC date for the Thera eruption,” by Pearson and her colleagues is scheduled to publish online Aug.
Pearson learned about the Thera eruption while studying archeology in college and has been fascinated by the eruption and its aftermath ever since. Narrowing the date for the Minoan-era eruption of the volcano Thera is so important for Mediterranean archeology that there have been whole conferences about when that eruption occurred, she said.
Debate still rages over date of Thera eruption at ancient Akrotiri
The eruption on Santorini Thera:
The volcanic eruption of Santorini was the greatest in historical times. Assigned to the Late Minoan IA period, archaeological correlations implied a date late in the.
The latest controversy in a bitter archaeological dispute involves—I kid you not—a literal olive branch. The olive branch comes from the Greek island of Santorini, where a volcano erupted more than three millennia ago, spewing gas, ash, pumice, and boulders into the sky. Once depleted, the volcano collapsed in on itself. So violent was the eruption, some have speculated, that it ended the once prosperous Minoan civilization, instigated a volcanic winter as far away as China, and inspired the 12 plagues of Exodus as well as the myth of Atlantis—claims that are to varying degrees controversial.
But nothing is as controversial, it turns out, as the debate over when the Santorini volcano actually erupted. The olive branch was supposed to help resolve this. In the s, the geoscientist Walter Friedrich and his graduate student Tom Pfeiffer at Aarhus University found the branch in Santorini under several feet of pumice from that ancient eruption.
It looked as if it had been buried alive. They got excited. Using this method, Friedrich arrived at an eruption date of to B. The archeologists were not pleased. It does not help that olive wood is notoriously hard to date. Instead, a new paper in Scientific Reports finds, parts of a branch can stop growing for years and even decades before a tree dies.
It likes to keep its secrets.
The Mystery of the Ancient Volcano That May Have Inspired Atlantis
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( 14C yr BP) ‘Minoan’ eruption of Santorini (or Thera) in the Aegean has been found in Baillie, M.G.L. Do Irish bog oaks date the Shang Dynasty?
The Minoan eruption was a major catastrophic volcanic eruption that devastated the Aegean island of Thera now called Santorini in around BCE. Although there are no clear ancient records of the eruption, the Minoan eruption may have been alluded to in the Egyptian Tempest Stele ,  as well as the Chinese Bamboo Annals. Geological evidence shows the Thera volcano erupted numerous times over several hundred thousand years before the Minoan eruption.
In a repeating process, the volcano would violently erupt, then eventually collapse into a roughly circular seawater-filled caldera , with numerous small islands forming the circle. The caldera would slowly refill with magma, building a new volcano, which erupted and then collapsed in an ongoing cyclical process. Immediately before the Minoan eruption, the walls of the caldera formed a nearly continuous ring of islands, with the only entrance between Thera and the tiny island of Aspronisi.
The northern part of the caldera was refilled by the volcanic ash and lava, then collapsed again. The volcano ejected up to four times as much as the well-recorded eruption by Krakatoa in The Thera volcanic events and subsequent ashfall probably destroyed all indigenous life, as occurred on Krakatoa.
On the enigma of dating the Minoan eruption of Santorini
The question about the exact date of the Minoan eruption of the Thera Santorini volcano, which ended the Minoan culture and left impressions on the archaeology of the whole eastern Mediterranean, is still enigmatic. While archaeologists seem to favor an eruption date around the so called “low” chronology , other scientists want to place the eruption around the “high” chronology i. There is still a hot debate running about this topic refs. However, concerning one point the archaeologists seem to have reached consensus: the Minoan eruption took place around the start of the Egyptian New Kingdom, i.
Therefore a reliable date of the Minoan eruption would pin down the Egyptian New Kingdom on the absolute time line. Many articles have been written about the radiocarbon dating of samples from the Thera eruption and the Egyptian 18th dynasty.
Time’s Up! Dating the Minoan eruption of Santorini: Acts of the Minoan Eruption Chronology Workshop, Sandbjerg November by David A. Warburton.
To browse Academia. Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. The olive-branch dating of the Santorini eruption Antiquity. The olive-branch dating of the Santorini eruption. Bronze Age catastrophe and modern controversy: dating the Santorini eruption The date of the volcanic eruption of Santorini that caused extensive damage to Minoan Crete has been controversial since the s. Some have placed the event in the late seventeenth century BC.