This is Cool

A story on MSNBC talks about new attempts to carbon date the volcanic eruption on Santorini could revise the chronology of early Mediterranean history:

Overall, the radiocarbon results indicate that the formation and high point of the New Palace period of Crete, the wall paintings of Akrotiri, the Shaft Grave period of the Greek mainland, and the political changes on Cyprus all occurred before approximately 1600 B.C. This is not only about 100 years earlier than thought; it also implies that the overall cultural era involved lasted much longer than researchers had assumed.
The new chronology makes the world of New Palace Crete even more important and interesting, Manning said, turning the later 18th and 17th centuries B.C. into an exciting new “cultural cauldron” from which significant elements of European history may have originated.

3 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, many respected archaeologists (esp. Manfred Bietak) reject this early dating. For one, it would make a nonsense of our understanding of the 18th Egyptian Dynasty (because Theran pumice (Thera=Santorini) has been found in Avaris in the Nile Delta in a stratum that is firmly correlated with the 18th dyn.), which is quite reliably dated to about 1500BC or even later.
    See the Wikipedia entry on “Thera eruption” for more details on the controversy.
    Interesting, nevertheless.

  2. They talk about 100 years. Why is that so exciting? I know, a lot has happened in the last 100 years, but around 1600 B.C.E. ? 100 years here, 100 years there, no biggie! 😉

  3. This doesn’t seem like anything new, unless my source is out of date. According to Runnels and Murray, “In the 1980s carbon-14 dating of plant remains from Akrotiti gave consistently earlier dates for the Minoan eruption, much closer to 1600 B.C,” as opposed to 1500 B.C.
    Runnels, Curtis and Priscilla Murray. “Greece Before History: An Archaeological Companion and Guide”. 2001. Stanford U. Press, California.

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