Ancient Minoans: Death by Volcano?

Around 1450 BC, the famed Minoan civilization suddenly collapsed. The disappearance of these people remains one of history’s greatest mysteries. So, what happened to them?

The Minotaur from the Minoan Civilization

“The Minotaur on the Shattered Cliff”: The Minotaur from the Minoan Civilization
Attribution: Engraving by Gustave Doré illustrating Canto XII of Divine Comedy, Inferno, by Dante Alighieri
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Strange Collapse of the Minoan Civilization?

One particularly intriguing theory about the collapse has come to light over the last few decades. About fifty years beforehand, a volcano erupted on the island of Thera. Sixty miles away, the Minoan civilization on Crete was struck by a sudden, ruinous tsunami. A volcanic winter likely followed, leading to years of crop failures. Starving and angry, the Minoan people might’ve turned on their leaders, leading to political turmoil. Weakened and divided, the Minoans would’ve proved an easy target for the Mycenaeans.

Here’s more on the Minoan Collapse from the BBC:

Three and a half thousand years ago, the tiny Aegean island of Thera was devastated by one of the worst natural disasters since the Ice Age – a huge volcanic eruption.

This cataclysm happened 100km from the island of Crete, the home of the thriving Minoan civilisation. Fifty years after the eruption, that civilisation was in ruins. Did the volcano deliver a death blow to the Minoans? It’s a whodunnit that has haunted historians and scientists for decades…

Early 20th-century archaeologists knew of the devastating volcano and some concluded it must have snuffed out the Minoan civilisation almost instantly. But was it really as simple as that?

(See the rest on the Minoan Collapse at the BBC)

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