Geographical sites:

  • Thera (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #599973)
    Pleiades_icon Thera (island) island Geocontext: Santorini GRE
    Description: An island of the southern Aegean Sea, Thera is the southernmost of the Cyclades. The island's present form is the result of a Middle Bronze Age volcanic eruption that destroyed a Minoan settlement on the island.


Text #8949

Freewalt. "The Theran Disruption"
[pp. 3--4]


Before the eruption took place, scientists believe that the people of Thera and possibly the surrounding islands began to flee the area due to the numerous earthquakes that would have preceded an eruption of such magnitude.1

Archeological evidence of the eruption indicate that it was immense, perhaps one of the largest European eruptions in the past 100,000 years. …

Airwaves from the explosion would have thundered throughout the region, and the earth likely shook from the earthquakes that preceded, occurred during, and continued after the eruption. …

An eruption of Thera’s magnitude might make one expect to find eyewitness accounts from Egypt, Mesopotamia, or the Levant, but direct records of the Theran eruption have yet to be discovered. One reason to explain this phenomenon could be Thera’s island geography. Because most of Thera’s residents are believed to have abandoned the island prior to the eruption due to earthquakes, there would have been few people remaining to see the eruption as it happened. Those remaining residents would certainly have perished in the pyroclastic flows and would have been buried in the thick tephra. Residents of islands in the immediate vicinity would likely also have perished due to the toxic gasses in the ash cloud, the raining debris, and the likely tsunamis. The further removed from Thera itself, the less clear observers would be as to what was happening. Certainly, people on nearby Crete would have been affected by raining debris and a tsunami, but would they have known that those catastrophes were caused by a volcanic eruption? Most people affected by the Theran eruption would likely have experienced associated effects such as daytime darkness, thunderous noises, mysterious clouds, flooding, earthquakes, and atmospheric anomalies, without connecting these occurrences with a volcanic eruption.

  1. Clive Oppenheimer, Eruptions That Shook the World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 24

Text #8958

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

The dating of the Theran eruption has been corrected to 1650 BC by Manning et al. See E#5160

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