Skip to comments.ARCHAEOLOGY: New Carbon Dates Support Revised History of Ancient Mediterranean
Posted on 04/27/2006 4:59:30 PM PDT by Lessismore
During the Late Bronze Age, the Aegean volcanic island of Thera erupted violently, spreading pumice and ash across the eastern Mediterranean and triggering frosts as far away as what is now California. The Theran town of Akrotiri was completely buried. Tsunamis up to 12 meters high crashed onto the shores of Crete, 110 kilometers to the south, and the cataclysm may ultimately have sped the demise of Crete's famed Minoan civilization. For nearly 30 years, archaeologists have fought over when the eruption took place. Those who rely on dates from pottery styles and Egyptian inscriptions put the event at roughly 1500 B.C.E., whereas radiocarbon experts have consistently dated it between 100 and 150 years earlier.
Now, two new radiocarbon studies on pages 548 and 565 claim to provide strong support for the earlier dates. The studies "convincingly solve the problem of the dating of the Thera eruption," says archaeologist Colin Renfrew of Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the work. If correct, the earlier dates would have "major consequences" for the relationships between Egypt, Minoan Crete, and Mycenaean Greece, says archaeologist Jeremy Rutter of Dartmouth College: "The issue of which direction artistic and other cultural influences was traveling may change significantly."
But many archaeologists who have long defended the later dates are unmoved. "I am not impressed," says Egyptologist Manfred Bietak of the University of Vienna in Austria, who prefers to rely on detailed Egyptian records for the same period. Archaeologists on both sides agree on one thing: The pottery found at Akrotiri since Greek archaeologists began excavating there during the 1960s has a distinctive style featuring spirals and floral motifs, known as Late Minoan IA (LM IA). The LM IA period also corresponds to what archaeologists consider the height of Minoan civilization. Because pottery was widely traded across the Mediterranean, sites that have pottery styles later than LM IA--such as Late Minoan IB, which features depictions of dolphins, octopi, and other sea creatures--must postdate the eruption. This makes it possible to construct relative chronologies for the region despite the debates over absolute dating.
One team, led by archaeologist Sturt Manning of Cornell University, dated 127 radiocarbon samples from Akrotiri and other Aegean sites thought--based on relative chronologies--to span a period from about 1700 to 1400 B.C.E. Manning and colleagues used a new radiocarbon calibration curve (described last year in the journal Radiocarbon) as well as sophisticated statistical models and cross-checked some samples among three different dating labs. They dated the eruption to between 1660 and 1613 B.C.E., within 95% confidence intervals.
That's a fairly close match to the findings of a second team, led by geologist Walter Friedrich of the University of Aarhus in Denmark. In 2002, Friedrich's graduate student Tom Pfeiffer found an olive branch, complete with remnants of leaves and twigs, that had been buried alive in pumice from the eruption. Radiocarbon dating fixed the death of the branch's outermost ring, and thus the eruption of Thera, between 1627 and 1600 B.C.E., again at 95% confidence levels. The authors of both papers argue that these earlier dates rule out the "conventional" chronology of about 1500 B.C.E.
"That is great news about the olive tree," says dendrochronologist Peter Kuniholm of Cornell, although he cautions that it is more difficult to assign specific years to the rings of a slender olive branch than to more commonly used trees such as conifers and oaks. Archaeologist Gerald Cadogan of the University of Reading, U.K., adds that the dates given by the two papers are "pretty consistent" and that their validity is bolstered because they are "put in context by other dates from before and after from elsewhere in the Aegean."
Manning and colleagues say the early dates suggest that the conventional linkage between Minoan and Egyptian chronologies, which puts the apex of Minoan civilization contemporaneous with Egypt's 16th century B.C.E. New Kingdom, is wrong. The New Kingdom, especially during the rule of Pharaoh Ahmose, was the high point of Egyptian power. Rather, the Minoans would have reached their own heights during the earlier Hyksos period, when the Nile delta was ruled by kings whose ancestors came from the Levant. Rutter says Egyptologists have tended to discount the importance of the Hyksos, whom Ahmose eventually chased out of Egypt: "The Hyksos have gotten lousy press."
This chronological realignment would also mean that the famous gold-laden Mycenaean Shaft Graves--excavated by German entrepreneur Heinrich Schliemann in the late 1800s and known to correlate with the LM IA period as well as the beginnings of Mycenaean power in the Aegean--would also be contemporaneous with the Hyksos. Some archaeologists had speculated that the Mycenaeans owed their rise to a strategic alliance with the New Kingdom; the new radiocarbon dates would instead raise the possibility that they were allied with the Hyksos, Rutter says. At the very least, Manning says, "it would make the Hyksos world much more important and interesting." Manning adds that the earlier chronology would create "a different context for the genesis of Western civilization."
But many proponents of the later chronology are sticking to their guns. The radiocarbon dates create "an offshoot from the historical Egyptian chronology of 120 to 150 years," says Bietak. "Until the reasons for this offshoot are solved, we are chewing away at the same old cud."
Bietak and others have argued that radiocarbon dating is not infallible and that the earlier date for the Thera eruption is contradicted by excavations in Egypt and on Thera itself. He and other archaeologists have found LM IA pottery in stratigraphic layers that Egyptian records date to later periods, and at Akrotiri they have unearthed a style of Cypriot pottery that apparently does not show up until the 16th century B.C.E. in Egypt. "There are no current grounds for thinking that the Egyptian historical chronology could be out by more than a few years," says archaeologist Peter Warren of the University of Bristol, U.K. "This chronology has been constructed by hundreds of expert Egyptologists over many decades."
Nevertheless, Rutter says, the Science authors "have done what they can to overcome" the objections by advocates of a later date for Thera. And both sides agree that there is a lot at stake in the debate. Until it is resolved, Warren says, at least for the Late Bronze Age, "we would have to forget about serious study of the past and relationships between peoples."
Oh. From the headline, I thought this was a story about Helen Thomas.
They must have been conservative Republicans.
LOL. I would love to have her carbon dated. Wonder what era they would find she lived in?
I traveled to Crete and Sanotini back in '71 and had been aware of the impact that the Theran explosion had on the entire eastern Mediterranean. If this was in 1500BC, then the theory that it was partly responsible for some of the miracles [parting of the Red Sea] during Moses' age now need to be revised.
I believe Helen Of Thera died in the Upper-Middle ERA Era; just about the time the ERA was also starting to look moribund.
About 10 years after she was embalmed, Disney exhumed her, and used her corpse in Computer Assisted Total Animatronics experiments; like some Disney films, she was never released, but escaped.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I believe we can get a more accurate age by sawing her in half and counting the rings.
"I traveled to Crete and Sanotini back in '71 and had been aware of the impact that the Theran explosion had on the entire eastern Mediterranean. If this was in 1500BC, then the theory that it was partly responsible for some of the miracles [parting of the Red Sea] during Moses' age now need to be revised."
This event was a worldwide affecting event. The tree-rings world wide recorded an event at 1628BC+- which I believe provided all the plagues and fire-works for the Exodus. The plume would have had to be 30 miles high to have been seen in the Nile Valley, "Torch by night - Staff by day."
. The Pinatibo equption was 26 miles high and the recent Alaskan eruption was 34 miles high.
I notice you used past tense. Seems right
Thanks a lot! I snorted Coke on my monitor, scairt the cat who took off on all fours - with claws out - gotta go now, get some iodine
God uses His own tools for His purposes
Thanks! Will ping when I get home. I was going to ping it when there were no replies, but the freakin' work duties called my name, plus my coworker rudely closed two or three windows, and opened up one of her own. Talk about no web etiquette.
Then use your own designation. Remember, I am quite happy to use other folk's orthographic representations of dates simply to have evidence that they are narrow-minded bigots who cannot stand to have others give any offense in their presence.
Quite an interesting display. Consequently, if Thera were at all responsible for the effect seen by the Hebrews as they fled East, it must have been in the cooling effect that fostered the growth of grass in the Sinai which then burned.
That'd place Exodus at 2 or 3 years later than this event. Aftershocks could have been felt in the Nile Valley for half a decade ~
Does anyone know if there has been any seafloor mapping in the southern third of the red sea that would be able to detect landslide scars?
Bump for later.
Far as I'm concerned, the very use of this date designation casts suspicion on the source."
What are you talking about? You mean that doesn't stand for Before Christian Era?
Before Common Era. A secular replacement of BC.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
On Saturday, August 10, 2002 at 4:49 PM, it occurred to me that the inflated Thera date (for a super eruption that didn't occur) may have been engineered in order to push back the beginning of the Hyksos period, solving a chronological problem for the 2nd Intermediate Period. The New Kingdom has been artificially extended backwards into the period that was actually the Hyksos rule, necessitating a reduction in the length of time of that rule, as well as unattested contemporariness (?) for various sequential dynasties. Pulling the beginning backwards helps Egyptologists, but it makes the problem of dating Greek strata worse, further extending the dark age. OTOH, it's nice to see the Exodus making egress from the New Kingdom, in which it doesn't belong.Bronze Age Myths?A first rule of statistics is that the existence of a correlation does not itself prove a causal connection... This paper examines some of the available evidence for these two Bronze Age 'catastrophes', the one real and in need of a calendar date, the other hypothesized on archaeological grounds and dated by a tenuous link through tree rings to an Icelandic volcano... Despite several cautionary comments from both archaeologists (Manning 1988; Warren 1988) and geologists (Pyle 1989; 1990), the 1628 BC date, or one close to it, continues to be accepted (e.g. Michael and Betancourt 1988), without questioning why the effects of the Santorini eruption should be especially recognizable in the ice-core and tree-ring sequences. Large-scale explosive volcanic activity is common on a global scale (Zielinski et al. 1996), and so before accepting the possibility that the Santorini eruption can be recognized by unusual perturbations in the regional records of ice-cores or tree-rings, the case for its distinctive character must be proved.
Volcanic Activity and Human Response in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic Region
Paul C. Buckland
Andrew J. Dugmore
Kevin J. Edwards
Antiquity Vol. 71 (1997), pp. 581-593.
You would think a few ice core samples would have settled the matter by now. But no! :(
Fifteen Frequently Asked QuestionsQ4: Where does CoD stand with the scientific dating for the explosion of Thera which is raising, rather than lowering, Bronze Age chronology?
Peter James et al
In the mid-1980s dendrochronologists proposed a way of dating the explosion of Thera scientifically. They suggested that narrow tree-rings (caused by frost) around 1628 BC in North America reflected the adverse weather caused by the volcano. Such an event seemed to be confirmed by later finds of frost-ring damage in Irish tree-rings and a peak of sulphuric acid in the Greenland ice-cores. This ran counter to the archaeological dating of the Thera explosion to c. 1500 BC.
Both vulcanologists (notably David Pyle of Cambridge) and archaeologists (notably Peter Warren of Bristol) advised caution about such "proxy dating". Frost-ring damage and acidity peaks might well be caused by volcanic eruption, but there was no evidence to show which volcano was responsible. Nevertheless, by the 1990s an increasing number of scholars had jumped on the 'scientific dating' bandwaggon, attempting to raise the beginning of the Late Bronze Age Greece to accommodate the 1628 BC date. Manning (1992), for example, insisted that the 1620s acid peak was the only signature in the ice-cores which was close enough in time to match the Thera event.
We have always remained sceptical of the case for a high date for Thera, suspecting that the whole thing would eventually fall through. Unfortunately, our position recently led an otherwise favourable reviewer to remark that we took a "sceptical view of the new scientific dating techniques" (Gerding 1997/8, 160), which is far from the truth. Proxy dating is not to be confused with the scientific techniques themselves.
As it happens, we have now been vindicated. When further work was published on the Greenland ice-cores the real reason why the 1620s date looked so conspicuous became clear. Due to budgetary constraints, a thorough search measuring the sulphuric acid from each year had never been undertaken! When this was done, the 1620s BC 'event' ceased to be special. Similar peaks of sulphuric acid are now known to exist in the 16th, 15th, 14th and 13th centuries (Zielinski et al. 1994)! Any of these (for example those from the ice-core years 1594, 1454, 1327 and 1284) might represent the Thera eruption. Worse still, small particles of volcanic ejecta have now been found in one of the very ice-levels from Greenland. Analysis has shown that their chemical composition does not match that of Thera (Zielinski & Germani 1998a). Clearly miffed, Manning (1998) published a "correction" to the geologists' conclusions, arguing that they had misinterpreted their data and that the particles came from Thera after all. The geologists' response (Zielinksi & Germani 1998b) stated, in as many words, that Manning was out of his depth and simply did not understand the methods involved.
Apart from the entertainment value of watching these developments from the sidelines, we are now able to stress that there is no longer any 'scientific' consensus on the high dating. Indeed, the direct evidence from the Greenland ice-cores suggests that the c. 1628 BC event should not be linked with the explosion of Thera, but with that of an unidentified volcano.
In short there is no good evidence for raising the dates for the beginning of the Late Bronze Age in Greece, rather than lowering them - as we feel should be the case. (Even though, strictly speaking, a raising of the beginning and a lowering of the end are not mutually exclusive, as the real length of the Late Bronze Age remains sub judice.)
The estimated 207 BC synch might match the only historical record (Strabo) which survives from ancient literature, but another estimate (of the dozen or so eruptions in the past 200,000 years) is 197 BC, which IMHO is more accurate.New Ice-Core EvidenceDetermining a reliable calendrical age of the Santorini (Minoan) eruption is necessary to place the impact of the eruption into its proper context within Bronze Age society in the Aegean region. The high-resolution record of the deposition of volcanically produced acids on polar ice sheets, as available in the SO42-time series from ice cores (a direct signal), and the high-resolution record of the climatic impact of past volcanism inferred in tree rings (a secondary signal) have been widely used to assign a 1628/1627 age to the eruption. The layer of ice in the GISP2 (Greenland) ice core corresponding to 1623±36 , which is probably correlative to the 1628/1627 event, not only contains a large volcanic-SO42-spike, but it contains volcanic glass. Composition of this glass does not match the composition of glass from the Santorini eruption, thus severely challenging the 1620s age for the eruption. Similarly, the GISP2 glass does not match the composition of glass from other eruptions (Aniakchak, Mt. St. Helens, Vesuvius) thought to have occurred in the 17th century nor does it match potential Icelandic sources. These findings suggest that an eruption not documented in the geological record is responsible for the many climate-proxy signals in the late 1620s . Although these findings do not unequivocally discount the 1620s age, we recommend that 1628/1627 no longer be held as the "definitive" age for the Santorini eruption.
Challenges the 1620s
age for the Santorini
by Gregory A. Zielinski
and Mark S. Germani
13 July 1997
Akroteri, a Minoan city on the south part of Thera, is being excavated. About 3-6 feet (1-2 m) of ash fell on the city which had a population of about 30,000. The residents appear to have been successfully evacuated prior to the eruption. No bodies have been found in the ash like those at Vesuvius. Archeologists also reported that movable objects had been taken from the city...
The Kameni Islands formed after the caldera. Eleven eruptions since 197 B.C. have made the two islands. The most recent eruption at Santorini was in 1950 on Nea Kameni, the northern island. The eruption was phreatic and lasted less than a month. It constructed a dome and produced lava flows.Dendrochronological Dating, Results And Open ProblemsIn 1984 Val LaMarche and Kathy Hirschboeck pointed out a severe frost ring in their Californian bristlecone pine tree-ring record relating to the calendar year 1627 BC. Their suggestion that this frost event might have been due to the eruption of the Santorini volcano in the Aegean is still a source of active debate. Their work stimulated the observation of a series of narrowest-ring events in an Irish oak chronology at dates 3195 BC, 2345 BC, 1159 BC, 207 BC and AD 540. These dates, it turns out, fall in the vicinity of several possibly traumatic environmental events marked in human records by such phenomena as dynastic changes, Dark Ages and plagues (Baillie 1995).
by Mark Baillie
Geoarchaeology:"Artifacts from Akrotiri, linked to the Egyptian calendar [sic] put the Thera eruption at more than a hundred years later [than 1644 +/- 20 BC]. While the controversy remains open, it is our view that the volcanic activity recorded in the Greenland ice core more likely came from nearby Iceland than from the eastern Mediterranean (this may be testable by any chemical signature). [p 158-159]
The Earth-Science Approach to Archaeological Interpretation
by George (Rip) Rapp, Jr. and Christopher L. Hill
"Living samples from a freshwater lake on limestone terrain have been known to give a radiocarbon date of up to 1600 BP." [p 166]Ancient Modern Life And Carbon DatingPrimordial carbon may come from limestone or natural gas welling up from the earth's interior. Modern life forms that metabolize primordial rather than atmospheric carbon dioxide, with its cosmic-ray produced carbon-14, will appear extremely old when carbon-dated. Mice eating such apparently ancient life forms at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, California, were carbon-dated as being 13,000 years old, and were expected to attain a ripe old age of 35,000 in a few months.
by William R. Corliss
Its Bush's fault!
We shore have.
from a big mutha of an eruption -- in prehistoric times, 22 thousand years ago.Marine tephra from the Cape Riva eruption (22 ka) of Santorini in the Sea of Marmara[Abstract] A discrete tephra layer has been discovered in three marine sediment cores from the Sea of Marmara, eastern Mediterranean. The rhyodacitic glass chemistry and the stratigraphical position suggest a Santorini provenance and, in particular, a correlation with the marine Y-2 tephra that is known from the southern Aegean Sea and eastern Levantine Basin. This tephra represents the distal facies of the Cape Riva eruption of Santorini, which has been dated by 14C on land at 21950 cal. yr BP. Hitherto, the Y-2 tephra has been detected only in marine sediment cores recovered south to southeast of its volcanic source. The new occurrence in the Sea of Marmara approximately 530 km NNE of the Santorini eruptive centre suggests a more north-easterly dispersal of fallout products of the Cape Riva eruption than previously supposed.
S. Wulf, M. Kraml, T. Kuhn,
M. Schwarz, M. Inthorn, J. Keller,
I. Kuscu, and P. Halbach
Do you have any idea of what the VEI was for the Cape Riva event? I have found a similar date 22,000 BP for the huge eruption of Sakara-Jima in Japan which left a caldera around 15 miles in diameter. Pinitubo had a 3 mile diameter crater. There was a major downturn in worldwide temperature around 22,000 BP and these two could certainly have been a cause. There were also several other major down spikes in temperature in the 28K BP to 24K BP. Do you have any likely candidates?
What I hate about this article is the politically correct date. B. C. E. We have lost B. C. (Before Christ) and replaced it with B.C.E. (Before Common Era) Even though Western Culture has become dominate the lefts dont want to offend anyone. Even those who still live in the 7th century and have contributed nothing to mankind except suicide bombers.
After some research it turns out that he 'Common Era' - a Secular Term for Year Definition is being pushed by ONE crazy guy in Canada. And the lefties have fallen again for stupidity. They are just stuck on stupid.
Nuts. Sorry, Don't think you'll find any volcanic flow under the red sea at the crossing site marked by Solomon. Many problems with your grasp for a "natural" explanation (ei trying to write God out of the picture in favor of something that could be mistaken for "God"). The first and most obvious is that you can't walk on fresh magma flows.. takes quite a while before a person can walk on the unstable surface crust. Tell us, where in the story of the Exodus is the mention of the countless people lost during the crossing due to falling through unstable crust and burning to death? Hmm, guess they missed that part with all the generalizations.. But they do manage to mention the earth opening up and swallowing people at Sainai.. curious, huh. Much later; but, they don't mind mentioning that. Must have been a simple quake, right? (snickering). Delude yourself if you will. Apparently, since these folks recorded what happened and you don't like it, they need "interpreting". It would seem to me they just need to be listened to. But then you'd not sleep at night knowing there is a God out there who dispenses Justice mixed with mercy. The mercy you'd probably not mind.. it's that "justice" thing that gets most of you upset.
I think it is pretty likely the Thera/Santorini was around 1625 BC. There apparently was a start to the vulcanism there about 20 years earlier which caused the people to move before the final cataclysm. I think this period corresponds with the disturbances of the Hyksos period, and the general climate disturbance of the volcano could have driven conquering people into Egypt, perhaps from the middle east.The only eruption on Calliste (another ancient name for the island) attested in ancient sources was circa 200 BC. The supposedly largest-ever-in-historical-times eruption is a 20th century invention.
similar, newer topic, from April 27, 2006 C.E.:
Olive branch solves a Bronze Age mystery
Yahoo/MSNBC (Science) | 3:04 p.m. ET April 27, 2006 | Kathleen Wren
Posted on 04/28/2006 8:59:40 AM EDT by The_Victor
This thing was not your normal (run-of-then-mill) volcano. One guy even suggested that it be moved up to 'super-volcano' status.
The Last Glacial Maximum(LGM), was 18-23,000 years ago and was one of the coldest periods during the entire Ice Age. I'm beginning to think it was at this time that the Mongoloid body-type was defined. The oldest (undisputed) Mongoloid skeleton ever found is only 10,000 years old (Oppenheimer)
I've had similar thoughts.
I read the implications of the title a little differently. I figured boyfriend Helen could get was a charcoal briquette, hence "New carbon dates."
Time to get more coffee.
I wonder how accurate radiocarbon dating is in a situation involving a volcanic eruption. Perhaps the percentage of radioactive material spewed out impacts the readings in some way, although one would think more radioactive material would result in a younger date.
How does this Hyksos dating correspond to the reconstructed dating by Velikovsky?
I was not suggesting that there was any surface magma event. If there was such a phenomenon it would have been hundreds or perhaps thousands of feet beneath the surface of the earth. The bulge at the Japanese volcano I mentioned raised the earth several hundred feet, and you could still see the trees and the roads in the pictures that accompanied the article. As I said before, I think it was Usu, try looking for it. "Natural" phonemenon do not diminish God, they glorify Him.
Archeological reports that I have encountered several times indicate there was earthquake/volcanic disturbance of a less serious nature than the final cataclysm, which nevertheless was sufficient to encourage the populace of Santorini/Thera to move away before the big one, and occurred about 20 years earlier. I can't remember the specific sources, as I became interested in this subject 6 years ago, and a lot of material has passed before my eyes since then.
Sure they do. Any thing that can explain God out of the picture glorifies him. Right. And I suppose Giving Clinton Credit for Reagan's job would glorify Reagan?
Drug references will get you banned.
Depends on whether the Exodus is attributed to the supposed eruption. Even in that case, it would depend on each claim/author. :')
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.