Main article: Santorini caldera Geological evidence shows the Thera volcano erupted numerous times over several hundred thousand years before the Minoan eruption. In a repeating process, the volcano would violently erupt, then eventually collapse into a roughly circular seawater-filled caldera , with numerous small islands forming the circle. The caldera would slowly refill with magma, building a new volcano, which erupted and then collapsed in an ongoing cyclical process. The northern part of the caldera was refilled by the volcanic ash and lava, then collapsed again.
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Main article: Santorini caldera Geological evidence shows the Thera volcano erupted numerous times over several hundred thousand years before the Minoan eruption. In a repeating process, the volcano would violently erupt, then eventually collapse into a roughly circular seawater-filled caldera , with numerous small islands forming the circle.
The caldera would slowly refill with magma, building a new volcano, which erupted and then collapsed in an ongoing cyclical process. The northern part of the caldera was refilled by the volcanic ash and lava, then collapsed again. The volcano ejected up to four times as much as the well-recorded eruption by Krakatoa in The Thera volcanic events and subsequent ashfall probably destroyed all indigenous life, as occurred on Krakatoa.
This layer has three distinct bands that indicate the different phases of the eruption. It is also suggested that several months before the eruption, Santorini experienced one or more earthquakes, which damaged the local settlements. Archaeological evidence indicated burial of man-made structures with limited damage. Man-made structures not buried during Minoan A were completely destroyed.
The third phase was also characterized by the initiation of caldera collapse. This phase was characterized by the completion of caldera collapse, which produced megatsunamis.
Although the fracturing process is not yet known, the altitudinal statistical analysis indicates that the caldera had formed just before the eruption. The area of the island was smaller, and the southern and eastern coastlines appeared regressed.
During the eruption, the landscape was covered by the pumice sediments. In some places, the coastline vanished under thick tuff depositions. In others, recent coastlines were extended towards the sea. After the eruption, the geomorphology of the island was characterized by an intense erosional phase during which the pumice was progressively removed from the higher altitudes to the lower ones. In addition, the magma underlying the volcano came into contact with the shallow marine embayment , resulting in violent phreatomagmatic blasts.
The tsunami affected coastal towns such as Amnisos , where building walls were knocked out of alignment. Elsewhere in the Mediterranean are pumice deposits that could have been sent by the Thera eruption.
Ash layers in cores drilled from the seabed and from lakes in Turkey , however, show that the heaviest ashfall was towards the east and northeast of Santorini. The ash found on Crete is now known to have been from a precursory phase of the eruption, some weeks or months before the main eruptive phases, and it would have had little impact on the island.
It provides a fixed point for aligning the entire chronology of the second millennium BCE in the Aegean, as evidence of the eruption is found throughout the region. Despite the evidence, the exact date of the eruption has been difficult to determine. That argument has been made, in particular, by Malcolm H. Relative chronology[ edit ] Archaeologists developed the Late Bronze Age chronologies of eastern Mediterranean cultures by analysing the origin of artifacts for example, items from Crete , mainland Greece , Cyprus or Canaan found in each archaeological layer.
If the Thera eruption could be associated with a given layer of Cretan or other culture, chronologists could use the date of that layer to date the eruption itself. It results in the eruption being dated to between and , a time period which overlaps with the — date range from the archaeological evidence. The eruption devastated the nearby Minoan settlement at Akrotiri on Santorini, which was entombed in a layer of pumice.
Early hypotheses proposed that ashfall from Thera on the eastern half of Crete choked off plant life, causing starvation of the local population. Some sites were abandoned or settlement systems significantly interrupted in the immediate aftermath of the eruption. Whether the effects were enough to trigger the downfall of the civilization is intensely debated. The Mycenaeans were a military civilization. Using their functional navy and a well-equipped army, they were capable of an invasion.
Mycenaean weaponry has been found in burials on Crete. This demonstrates Mycenaean military influence not many years after the eruption. According to the Bamboo Annals , the collapse of the dynasty and the rise of the Shang dynasty , approximately dated to BCE, were accompanied by "yellow fog, a dim sun, then three suns , frost in July, famine, and the withering of all five cereals ".
Alternatively, if the eruption occurred in the Second Intermediate Period , the absence of Egyptian records of the eruption could be caused by the general disorder in Egypt around that time.
While it has been argued that the damage attributed to these storms may have been caused by an earthquake following the Thera eruption, it has also been suggested that it was caused during a war with the Hyksos , and the storm reference is merely a metaphor for chaos upon which the Pharaoh was attempting to impose order. Research indicates that the Speos Artemidos stele is a reference to her overcoming the powers of chaos and darkness.
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