Geological History of Santorini[ancient Greece] santorini ancient greece saffron gathering

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

santorini ancient greece symbol of sprring

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geological History: the volcano of Thera

 

                   For decades, scholars have debated whether the eruption of the Thera volcano in the Aegean more than 3,500 years ago, brought about the mysterious collapse of Minoan civilization at the peak of its glory…

                The volcanic isle (whose remnants are known as Santorini) lay just 110km from Minoan Crete, so it seemed quite reasonable, that its fury could have accounted for the fall of the Minoan civilisation….

               This idea suffered a blow in 1987 when Danish scientists studying cores from the Greenland icecap reported evidence that Thera exploded in 1645 BC, some 150 years before the usual date

               That put so much time between the natural disaster and the Minoan decline, that the linkage came to be widely doubted, seeming far-fetched at best.

              Now, scientists at Columbia University, the University of Hawaii and other institutions are renewing the proposed connection…

         New findings, they say, show that Thera's upheaval was far more violent than previously calculated -- many times larger than the 1883 Krakatoa eruption, which killed more than 36,000 people. They say the Thera blast's cultural repercussions were equally large, rippling across the eastern Mediterranean for decades, even centuries…

     “ It had to have had a huge impact," said Floyd W. McCoy, a University of Hawaii geologist who has studied the eruption for decades and recently proposed that it was much more violent than previously thought…

        The scientists say Thera's outburst produced deadly waves and dense clouds of volcanic ash over a vast region, crippling ancient cities and fleets, setting off climate changes, ruining crops and sowing wide political unrest.

           For Minoan Crete, the scientists see direct and indirect consequences. McCoy discovered that towering waves from the eruption that hit Crete were up to 15m high, smashing ports and fleets and severely damaging the maritime economy.

    Other scientists found indirect, long-term damage. Ash and global cooling from the volcanic pall caused wide crop failures in the eastern Mediterranean, they said, and the agricultural woes in turn , set off political upheavals that undid Minoan friends and trade…

         "Imagine island states without links to the outside world," William B. F. Ryan, a geologist at Columbia's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

         Compelling evidence

Scientists who link Thera to the Minoan decline say the evidence is still emerging and in some cases sketchy. Even so, they say it is already compelling enough to have convinced many archaeologists, geologists and historians that the repercussions probably amounted to a death blow for Minoan Crete.

          In 1939, Spyridon Marinatos proposed that the eruption wrecked Minoan culture on Thera and Crete. He envisioned the damage as done by associated earthquakes and tsunamis…

      While geologists found tsunamis credible, they doubted the destructive power of Thera's earthquakes, saying volcanic ones tend to be relatively mild. The debate simmered for decades.

   In the mid-1960s, scientists dredging up ooze from the bottom of the Mediterranean began to notice a thick layer of ash that they linked to Thera's eruption. They tracked it over thousands of square miles.

   Such clues helped geologists estimate the amount of material Thera spewed into the sky and the height of its eruption cloud, main factors in the Volcanic Explosively Index. Its scale goes from zero to eight and is logarithmic, so each unit represents a tenfold increase in explosive power. Thera was given a VEI of 6.0, on a par with Krakatoa in 1883.

   The similarity to Krakatoa, which lies between Sumatra and Java, helped experts better envision Thera's wrath.      Krakatoa hurled rock and ash more than 35km high and its blasts could be heard 4,800km away. Its giant waves killed thousands of people. Despite the power of Thera, the Danish scientists' evidence raised doubts about its links to the Minoan decline.Another blow landed in 1989 when scholars on Crete found, above a Thera ash layer, a house that had been substantially rebuilt in the Minoan style. It suggested at least partial cultural survival. By 1996, experts like Jeremy B. Rutter, head of classics at Dartmouth College, judged the chronological gap too extreme for any linkage. "No direct correlation can be established" between the volcano and the Minoan decline, he concluded.          

        As doubts rose about this linkage, scientists found more evidence suggesting that Thera's eruption had been unusually violent and disruptive over wide areas. Scientific maps drawn in the 1960s and 1970s showed its ash as falling mostly over nearby waters and Aegean islands.

      By the 1990's, however, the affected areas had been found to include lands of the eastern Mediterranean from Anatolia to Egypt. Scientists found ash from Thera at the bottom of the Black Sea and Nile delta.

        Massive anomaly

   Peter I. Kuniholm, an expert at Cornell University on using tree rings to establish dates, found ancient trees in a burial mound in Anatolia, what now is in the Asian part of Turkey. For half a decade those trees had grown three times as fast as normal, apparently because Thera's volcanic pall turned hot, dry summers into seasons that were unusually cool and wet.

"We've got an anomaly, the biggest in the past 9,000 years," Kuniholm said in an interview. Two years ago McCoy stumbled on more evidence suggesting that Thera's ash fall, had been unusually wide and heavy. During a field trip to Anafi, an island some 32km east of Thera, he found to his delight that the authorities had just cut fresh roads that exposed layers of Thera ash up to 3m thick a surprising amount that distance from the eruption. Greek colleagues showed him new seabed samples taken off the Greek mainland, suggesting that more ash blew westward than scientists had realized. 

    Factoring in such evidence, McCoy calculated that Thera had a VEI of 7.0 -- what geologists call colossal and exceedingly rare.

   In the past 10,000 years only one other volcano has exploded with that kind of gargantuan violence: Tambora, in Indonesia, in 1816, it produced an ash cloud in the upper atmosphere that reflected sunlight back into space and produced a year without a summer. The cold led to ruinous harvests, hunger and even famine in the US, Europe and Russia. » I presented this evidence last summer at a meeting," McCoy recalled, "and the comment from the other volcanologists was, `Hey, it was probably larger than Tambora…

    Some prominent archaeologists have concluded that the volcano's long-term repercussions meant the end of Minoan Crete…

    They argue that the revolt of nature over the predictable certainties of Minoan religion probably crippled the authority of the priestly ruling class, weakening its hold on society…

 

THE HISTORY OF THE EXCAVATIONS IN THERA

 

1856:   Roman inscriptions were found in Kamari…

 

1866:  The Theran doctor D Nomikos, in collaboration with the quarry owner Alaphouzos, and a year after

the French geologist F. Fouque, were conducted the first prehistoric excavations in Therasia…

 

1870 : Fouque wrote “ Santorin et ses eruptions,” Paris …

 

1870- 1939: French and German archaeologists continued excavations on the Island, and at 1895, Baron Hiller

Von Gaertringen revealed the ruins of Ancient Thera on Mesa Vouno…

 

   In 1939 S.Marinatos, a young Greek archaeologist announced his theory, that the volcanic eruption of Thera was responsible for the falling of the Minoan civilisation…  [Picture of S. Marinatos  in the excavation area, of Akrotiri…]

 

1960: The Greek Archeological Society began excavations in Ancient Thera and Akrotiri…

 

 In April 1967, Professor Spyridon Marinatos, of Athens University, discover the prehistoric city in Akrotiri…

 

 In October 1974, after continuous and intensive work in the excavation, he died in an accident inside the excavations, as if faith needed his own sacrifice, as exchange of the mostly important excavation that possessed

his mind for more than 35 years and unfortunately was not able to complete…

 

santorini ancient greece archeologist

Professor Spyridon Marinatos

The man who made santorini ancient Greece well known....