Originally it was believed that the eruption took place in BC, when the Minoan Civilization perished, but newest findings and theories set it somewhere between BC and BC. The cosmogonic event of the eruption has perplexed historians for years. Until today, the scientific world is trying to explain and reconstruct the sequence of events that lead to the destruction of the Island of Thira Santorini and probably devastated the Minoan Civilization.
Was it enough though to wipe off map the Minoans? For many years, the views and theories of archaeologists have diverged. Relatively recently though, new discoveries in Palaikastro in Crete give us enough hints for a plausible explanation. Archaeologist Stuart Dunn suggests that the volcanic ash from Santorini obviously shadowed Crete for a few days, but under no circumstances destroyed the Minoan Civilization.
The archaeologist Sandy McGillivray , who studies the Cretan Civilization and its destruction, called in Hendrik Bruins from the Ben Gurion University in Israel to examine the soil in Palaikastro and the coastal sites of Crete, close to the famous palm forest in Vai. Hendrik Bruins took some soil samples which showed sea microorganisms and species, in places that no known phenomenon could explain their existence.
The Fall of the Minoan Civilisation
The experts found deposits of stone and pottery, in pieces or powered, and lots of lumps of volcanic ash. They also discovered foraminifera , tiny marine organisms, usually found only on the seabed, and coralline algae, elements that cannot be seen on the mainland. Many kilometers away from Palaikastro, in Amnissos , the port of Knossos, the scientists examined findings that also contained ash, marine species, cattle bones, floor and wall plaster, pumice and seashells.
They figured out immediately that this could be explained only by a massive and sudden inflow of water and they called in Kostas Sinolakis , a tsunami expert. The only way they could have been deposited on the land of Crete was by a tsunami.
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The tidal wave caused by Santorini Volcano travelled and hit the shores of Crete, destroying the plantations, the crops, the ships and commerce, devitalizing and deviating the Minoan Civilization. The Minoan ports and infrastructures were destroyed by the 50 feet waves and were never rebuilt.
Based on highly accurate and specialized software, Dr Sinolakis managed to reconstruct and enact the way that this tsunami travelled across the Aegean building a full picture of its scale and impact. Using radio carbon techniques they compare the geological findings with the eruption era; all pieces are finally falling into place.
The conclusion was horrifying: Minoans could not have known what fate had written for them.
We can just imagine the terror; these people had run away, maybe some of them were coming back to help the wounded or find family members; they were there watching more waves coming in. This was something that happened over and over again, destroying completely the northern and eastern shores of Crete. Crete is a large island though; the palaces and settlements in the interior of the island were almost intact, as were the south and west coast.
Archaeologists have now enough evidence to believe that the reputed Minoan Civilization was severely damaged and affected by the eruption of Santorini Volcano, which destroyed their fleet. Prosperity and safety of the Minoans relied on their ships; since their main means of existence and defense were afflicted, Minoans became an easy prey for the Mycenaean invaders that came to island from the Greek Mainland.
Minoans did not disappear overnight; they became ripe for attack by ferocious enemies. In Palaikastro, archeologists found depredated and ravaged statues and monuments, while in Western Crete, closer to Chania, tombs of the same era with bodies and weapons not belonging to the Minoans were unearthed.
Research shows the Minoans were primarily mercantilist people, engaged in overseas trade and managed a lucrative maritime empire, dominating the Mediterranean, the Greek Islands, Greece, and expanded all the way out to the Black Sea. Located in the middle of the eastern Mediterranean, at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe, was the mountainous island of Crete. It was here where this magnificent civilization flourished. Archeological evidence shows there was habitation on the islands since the 7th millennium BC.
After the 5th millennium BC we find the first evidence of hand made pottery, marking the beginning of the civilization. History shows Crete had 90 cities, of which Knossos was the most important one. Research shows the palaces of the Minoans were destroyed by forces unknown to us in BC.
There is speculation that the destruction was caused either by a powerful earthquake, or by outside invaders. Despite the sudden destruction of their palaces, the Minoans continued to flourish. Again, we cannot be certain as to what caused the sudden interruption to the Minoan civilization, however, scholars have pointed to the possible invasion by outside forces, or the eruption of the Thera volcano as likely causes.
The Genius of Ancient Man: The Demise of the Minoan Civilization
The Minoans were a powerful, intelligent civilization. However, at the height of their power, the Minoans were wiped clean from our pages of history. For thousands of years the world has wondered how such an advanced culture could disappear so mysteriously. Early 20th century knew of the devastating volcano and many conclude that it must have wiped the Minoans civilization away almost instantly.
Then archeologists found clay tablets that proved the Minoan civilization survived for 50 more years after that volcanic eruption.
The discussion over what happened to the ancient civilization of the Minoans has been a favorite topic by many historians. Recently, a team of scientists began looking for more definitive answers and their findings are casting doubt on previous theories long held by scholars for decades. Instead, they are unearthing new evidence as to what really happened to the Minoans. Here we discover Dr. A vulcanologist from the University of Hawaii, he has been inspired by volcanoes since his childhood.
Determined to find out if there was a connection between the eruption of Thera and the end of the Minoans on Crete, he has been on a journey gathering evidence from scientists all over the world to answer this question. Floyd McCoy was convinced that a giant wave, or tsunami, was generated as a result of the massive volcanic eruption, and these giant waves battered the northern coast of Crete — but proof was hard to find.
The Demise of the Minoans
However, in , a young British geologist, Dr. Dale Dominey-Howes of Kingston University found what he believes is firm evidence of a tsunami hitting the island of Crete. He drilled deep into the mud at an inland marsh on Crete and took the mud back to England with him for analysis. Analysis of the mud showed it had been deposited layer upon layer, for thousands of years.