Essay on Minoan Civilization and Theran Eruption

Submitted By shannonmariefaye
Words: 748
Pages: 3


The eruption of Thera was a volcanic explosion that occurred during the Mycenaean period in history. The powerful blast blew the entire middle of the island out and left what is now the Island of Santarini. It resulted in a 35km ash plume that spread across Europe and up into the stratosphere. Archaeologists say that the ash pumice deposits have been found in the Mediterranean that could have possibly come from Thera. Additionally, it launched a 150km tsunami that devastated the north side of Crete. It is also thought to be the cause of the downfall of the Minoan civilisation in Akrotiri, however there has been some debate about it.
The main reason why it is important for archaeologists to know the date of the Theran eruption is because it is a key marker from the Bronze Age and provided a fixed point for chronology for 2nd BC. This is because evidence of ash deposits were found throughout the region. Despite this need for a precise date, to decipher when the eruption actually happened is difficult to determine. Despite this, traditional archaeologists have place an approximate date of 1600BC whilst using stratigraphy and radiocarbon dating.
However, Aegean Prehistorians rejected this traditional date as the relative stratigraphic dates for pottery sequences did not match the radiocarbon dates for organic findings within the layers of excavation. Therefore, the prehistorians used only radiocarbon and that gave a date of 1500BC; about a century earlier than the traditional date.
Although radiocarbon dating can be fairly accurate and provide a good set of results for archaeologists, to perform this technique the archaeologist must have a large organic sample to test. Consequently, because there would have not been a large extent of organic findings within the excavation but more, for example, pottery, the likelihood of stratigraphic dates being more reliable is high.

A debate between dates given by different dating techniques causes a problem for archaeologists. It means that event sequences that have been cross referenced from artifacts to create a solid series of events are at risk from being messed up, all because another technique displays a different date. This is particularly important for the eruption of Thera because many artifacts within excavations have had their relative dates cross referenced with evidence of the reigns of Egyptian pharaohs. For example, Uluburun (kas) shipwreck was dated to the same time as the reign of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt because of the scarab found within the shipwreck. If dates were to be debated and possibly confused, then sequences of events would fall apart and the chronology would no longer have any effect.

Unfortunately however, dated sequences are now under attack because dates are being messed up and replaced by new