Cyprus and Santorini

How do you precisely date an event that happened more than three thousand years ago and devasted empires? Well, you could expedite an archeological expedition and try to match artefacts with an existing timescale. But these timescales are themselves often just anyones guess.

Enter ice cones and dendrochronology. When a volcano erupts it emits large quantities of noxious gasses. When the eruption is large enough, you might detect its effects in the environment. Winters may seem endless, summers might not come and it can have a profound effect on nature.
So, when the massive Indonesian Tambora volcano erupted in April 1815, it spewed so much ashes and gasses into the atmosphere that 1816 became known as 'the year without summer'. Next, environmentalists discovered that they can exactly date the Tambora eruption because tree rings showed that trees did not grow as usual in 1816. Gasses like sulpheric acid were trapped into the Greenland ice and, like tree rings, that can also be dated.

There is still some disagreement as to when Santorini, the volcano that ended the 'age of Atlantis', exactly exploded. Wikipedia remains out of the debate by cautiously stating that it 'is estimated to have occurred in the mid-second millennium BCE'. Ice cores are so much more precize and scientists at first concluded that Santorini must have exploded in 1628 BC[1], but there was a problem: small particles of volcanic ejecta have now been found in one of these ice-levels from Greenland. Analysis has shown that their chemical composition does not match that of Santorini[2].

Currently the scientific concensus is is that the eruption actually took place in the 1640s, ans that it had relatively little environmental effect[3].
The effect of that eruption and explosion were immediate: a devastating tsunami raced across the eastern Mediterranean, destroying everything in its path. The Minoan civilization could not survive and withered away. In Egypt the tsunami might even have resulted in the parting of the sea during the time of the exodus. Which is therefore also precisely dated.

Did Cyprus suffer too? While it was not directly in the path of the tsunami, Cyprus was definitely part of the Minoan world. When the fabric of that world was torn to shreds, Cyprus suffered too[4].

[1] Baillie: Exodus to Arthur – 1999
[2] Zielinski, Germani: New ice-core evidence challenges the 1620s BC age for the Santorini (Minoan) eruption in Journal of Archaeological Sciences - 1998
[3] Wiener: Time Out: The current impasse in Bronze Age archealogical dating - 2003
[4] Velikovsky: Ages in Chaos I: From the Exodus to King Ahknaton - 1952

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