SS1: Bronze Age Cities and the Volcano of Thera


Jan Driessen

Université Catholique de Louvain

Irene Nikolakopoulou

Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, Crete, Greece

The cataclysmic eruption of the Thera volcano in the mid-second millennium BC had a tremendous effect on Bronze Age communities of the prehistoric Aegean. The evidence for widespread dispersal of volcanic material, destructions inflicted by earthquakes and/or tsunamis, combined with the elimination of the settlement at Akrotiri, a key harbour in maritime trade networks, suggests that the impact on the lives of people in Crete and the islands was significant in many aspects. Although the theory for the demise of Minoan civilization as a direct outcome of the eruption is now considered unlikely, data from environmental, geophysical and archaeological research paint a picture of severe turmoil at the time following the eruption. Experts from the above mentioned fields are invited to the workshop to present new evidence and synthetic approaches to the following topics of interest:

  • Physical evidence for the impact of the eruption (dispersal of volcanic material, destructions linked to seismic events and tsunamis, contamination of natural resources)
  • Patterns of environmental and societal crisis management strategies (cleaning/rebuilding/rehabilitating activities, alternative strategies to ensure viability of the Cretan Bronze Age palatial system, e.g. storage and agricultural practices)
  • Indicators for social, psychological and ideological uncertainty and instability in the aftermath of the eruption
  • The nature of the Late Bronze IA to Late Bronze IB transition in Aegean Bronze Age communities
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