Skip to comments.The wave that destroyed Atlantis [Destroyed by a giant tsunami?]
Posted on 04/22/2007 5:53:44 AM PDT by yankeedame
Last Updated: Friday, 20 April 2007, 08:05 GMT 09:05 UK
By Harvey Lilley
The legend of Atlantis, the country that disappeared
under the sea, may be more than just a myth. Research on
the Greek island of Crete suggests Europe's earliest
civilisation was destroyed by a giant tsunami.
Video reconstruction of the tsunami
Until about 3,500 years ago, a spectacular ancient civilisation was flourishing in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The ancient Minoans were building palaces, paved streets and sewers, while most Europeans were still living in primitive huts.
But around 1500BC the people who spawned the myths of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth abruptly disappeared. Now the mystery of their cataclysmic end may finally have been solved.
The wave would have been as powerful as the one that devastated the coastlines of Thailand and Sri Lanka on Boxing day 2004 leading to the loss of over 250,000 lives
A group of scientists have uncovered new evidence that the island of Crete was hit by a massive tsunami at the same time that Minoan culture disappeared.
"The geo-archaeological deposits contain a number of distinct tsunami signatures," says Dutch-born geologist Professor Hendrik Bruins of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.
"Minoan building material, pottery and cups along with food residue such as isolated animal bones were mixed up with rounded beach pebbles and sea shells and microscopic marine fauna.
The Santorini eruption may
have sparked the tsunami
"The latter can only have been scooped up from the sea-bed by one mechanism - a powerful tsunami, dumping all these materials together in a destructive swoop," says Professor Bruins.
The deposits are up to seven metres above sea level, well above the normal reach of storm waves.
"An event of ferocious force hit the coast of Crete and this wasn't just a Mediterranean storm," says Professor Bruins.
The Minoans were sailors and traders. Most of their towns were along the coast, making them especially vulnerable to the effects of a tsunami.
One of their largest settlements was at Palaikastro on the eastern edge of the island, one of the sites where Canadian archaeologist Sandy MacGillivray has been excavating for 25 years.
Here, he has found other tell-tale signs such as buildings where the walls facing the sea are missing but side walls which could have survived a giant wave are left intact.
"All of a sudden a lot of the deposits began making sense to us," says MacGillivary.
"Even though the town of Palaikastro is a port it stretched hundreds of metres into the hinterland and is, in places, at least 15 metres above sea level. This was a big wave."
How it might have looked as
the wave approached the town
But if this evidence is so clear why has it not been discovered before now?
Tsunami expert Costas Synolakis, from the University of Southern California, says that the study of ancient tsunamis is in its infancy and people have not, until now, really known what to look for.
Many scientists are still of the view that these waves only blasted material away and did not leave much behind in the way of deposits.
But observation of the Asian tsunami of 2004 changed all that.
"If you remember the video footage," says Costas, "some of it showed tonnes of debris being carried along by the wave and much of it was deposited inland."
Costas Synolakis has come to the conclusion that the wave would have been as powerful as the one that devastated the coastlines of Thailand and Sri Lanka on Boxing day 2004 leading to the loss of over 250,000 lives.
After decades studying the Minoans, MacGillivray is struck by the scale of the destruction.
"The Minoans are so confident in their navy that they're living in unprotected cities all along the coastline. Now, you go to Bande Aceh [in Indonesia] and you find that the mortality rate is 80%. If we're looking at a similar mortality rate, that's the end of the Minoans."
But what caused the tsunami? The scientists have obtained radiocarbon dates for the deposits that show the tsunami could have hit the coast at exactly the same time as an eruption of the Santorini volcano, 70 km north of Crete, in the middle of the second millennium BC.
The Minoans were Europe's
first great civilisation.
Recent scientific work has established that the Santorini eruption was up to 10 times more powerful than the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. It caused massive climatic disruption and the blast was heard over 3000 miles away.
Costas Synolakis thinks that the collapse of Santorini's giant volcanic cone into the sea during the eruption was the mechanism that generated a wave large enough to destroy the Minoan coastal towns.
It is not clear if the tsunami could have reached inland to the Minoan capital at Knossos, but the fallout from the volcano would have carried other consequences - massive ash falls and crop failure. With their ports, trading fleet and navy destroyed, the Minoans would never have fully recovered.
The myth of Atlantis, the city state that was lost beneath the sea, was first mentioned by Plato over 2000 years ago.
It has had a hold on the popular imagination for centuries.
Perhaps we now have an explanation of its origin - a folk memory of a real ancient civilisation swallowed by the sea.
Sounds like the Minoans didn’t buy enough carbon offsets to prevent the Santorini eruption :)
('Course with me and computer stuff that isn't saying much.)
Was this the same time that the Indus civilisation was around? They too had streets and houses with sewer systems. And that their language hasn't been cracked yet, adds more to the mystery.
"Recent scientific work has established that the Santorini eruption was up to 10 times more powerful than the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883."
I've read recently that some believe Santorini may have been close to super-volcano status.
I just completed reading the 1965 book Krakatoa and many first hand accounts...It was no picnic either.
Anything near 1875 B.C. is always of interest. That’s when every civilized spot East of Egypt was destroyed.
If only Bush had signed Kyoto they could have been saved....
Very true, Krakatoa, the largest explosion in recorded history, was probably no picnic. The claim that the 1645 BC Santorini eruption/explosion was bigger than Krakatoa sent me to Google which turned up a site which you may find interesting: Santorini
This whole site (not just the linked page) has lots of pictures and good stuff on Santorini and volcanoes in general.
Great articles--though don't agree with everything in them, and vehemently disagree with the parts about religion.
If Atlantis existed (itself debatable) and was located in the Atlantic (such as the Azores or the island that was just out of the Straits of Gibraltar), either it wasn't as powerful as Plato's account suggested (a teensy-weensy island could support a great culture, much less a civlization--this applies to Thera/Santorini, and even Minoan Crete), or Plato was off about both the power and the size: Crete is much smaller than the Maghreb and Asia Minor.
P.S. A lot of the commenters didn't take that size issue into consideration with their criticism, nor the suggestion of a Hellenized version for Plato, putting it in familiar Mediterranean surroundings. Plus, could the Pillars have been more than just two, and the Ocean being the Pacific (the largest ocean by far, especially if that NON-OCEAN dubbed the "Southern Ocean" is removed), and thus just a grouping of islands (i.e. similar to pillars/columns in the interior of a building)?
The IVC is usually put in with Sumer and Egypt as among the earliest great civilizations. Minoan civilization is about tied with the start of Chinese civilization.
When the Minoans went down, a dark age began in the Mediterranean that lasted for several centuries. It might be that the legend of the Flood was a memory of this, although there weren't many left to remember, and Flood legends occur worldwide, most of which was unaware of any Mediterranean civilization at the time.
IMO, it was likely the 'fireworks' for the Exodus out of Egypt. The tree-rings worldwide recorded an 'event' centered at 1628BC.
Personally I like the theory that the area of the black sea was flooded.
A re-analysis of theAbstract: The paroxysmal eruption of Santorini (ca. 3500 BP), referred to as the Late Bronze Age (LBA) eruption, probably generated multiple tsunami; their occurrence and impacts being cited frequently in scientific papers and articles. This paper examines what is known about any LBA tsunami, noting possible mechanisms of generation and identifying sedimentological traces. Firstly, the eruption sequence is outlined providing the context in which tsunami genesis may have occurred. Secondly, the arguments forwarded for the tsunami and a summary of the evidence is given. Thirdly, results of a new geological investigation for LBA tsunami deposits at 41 coastal sites from Crete and Kos are presented. The data are used to test the hypothesis that the LBA eruption generated an east Mediterranean-wide tsunami. It will be seen that no terrestrial geological evidence is identified. The paper re-examines the original arguments presented for LBA tsunami, challenging them because their founding assumptions are flawed. Together, the new data and the re-analysis of the original tsunami hypothesis indicate that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that any significant far-field tsunami propagated throughout the entire east Mediterranean as frequently purported. Some terrestrial evidence exists to suggest localised near-field tsunami inundation. There is good submarine evidence however, to suggest that a tsunami was focused to the W and WSW. The results have important implications for understanding the volcano-related tsunami hazard within the region and elsewhere.
Late Bronze Age eruption and tsunami
of Santorini, Greece, and the
implications for the volcano-tsunami hazard
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Volume 130, Issues 1-2,
15 February 2004, Pages 107-132Identification of Aniakchak (Alaska) tephraMinute shards of volcanic glass recovered from the 1645 Â± 4 BC layer in the Greenland GRIP ice core have recently been claimed to originate from the Minoan eruption of Santorini [Hammer et al., 2003]. This is a significant claim because a precise age for the Minoan eruption provides an important time constraint on the evolution of civilizations in the Eastern Mediterranean. There are however significant differences between the concentrations of SiO2, TiO2, MgO, Ba, Sr, Nb and LREE between the ice core glass and the Minoan eruption, such that they cannot be correlatives. New chemical analyses of tephra from the Late Holocene eruption of the Aniakchak Volcano in Alaska, however, show a remarkable similarity to the ice core glass for all elements, and this eruption is proposed as the most likely source of the glass in the GRIP ice core. This provides a precise date of 1645 BC for the eruption of Aniakchak and is the first firm identification of Alaskan tephra in the Greenland ice cores. The age of the Minoan eruption of Santorini, however, remains unresolved.
in Greenland ice core
challenges the 1645 BC date
for Minoan eruption of Santorini
Nicholas J. G. Pearce
John A. Westgate and Shari J. Preece
Warren J. Eastwood
William T. Perkins
New Ice-Core Evidence Challenges the 1620s age for the Santorini (Minoan) Eruption
Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 25, Issue 3, March 1998, Pages 279-289 | 13 July 1997 | Gregory A. Zielinski, Mark S. Germani
Posted on 07/29/2004 3:25:45 AM EDT by SunkenCiv
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