(2010) demonstrated that radiocarbon analyses could indeed give accurate and precise dates for Egypt and Egyptian history in the second millennium BC. Revised estimates for the volume of the Late Bronze Age Minoan eruption, Santorini, Greece. Thus, if radiocarbon worked in mid second millennium BC Egypt, then it should work also in the Aegean. Journal of the Geological Society, London, 171: 583-590.

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Claims and arguments to the contrary are reviewed, and it is explained why these are unlikely, implausible, or incorrect. An olive branch was found buried in the Minoan eruption pumice on Thera (Friedrich et al. The outer preserved part should give a date for, or close terminus post quem for, the eruption.

A sequence (from inner to outer parts of the sample) of radiocarbon dates on the sample gave a date shortly before 1600BC in agreement with (but more closely defined than) radiocarbon studies based on short-lived plant materials buried by the eruption at Akrotiri, or finds elsewhere associated with the eruption. But, because the group publishing the olive branch claimed they could approximately recognize annual growth increments (tree-rings) – whereas most agree this is problematic to impossible in olives beyond the juvenile stage – much debate ensued.

The tree ring issue unfortunately has come to hide the obvious: whether or not any growth rings are evident the simple inner to outer (oldest to most recent) time series of radiocarbon ages from the branch (and no supposed tree-ring information) still leads to almost the same conclusion: a late 17 century BC date, as stated by Friedrich et al. (2014) that a lack of clear tree rings somehow undermined everything. Tsunami waves generated by the Santorini eruption reached Eastern Mediterranean shores, Geology 37: 943-946.

Hence the new book (and hence of course this blog).

It has been clear since the mid-1970s that radiocarbon indicated an earlier date than the previously orthodox archaeological estimate of ca. The chronology of Tell el-Daba: a crucial meeting point of C dating, archaeology, and Egyptology in the 2nd millennium BC.

1500 BC, and more recent radiocarbon dating on materials from both Thera and the region, allied with sophisticated forms of modeling, have firmly pointed to a date in the later-late 17 century BC (Manning et al. Possible concerns that volcanic carbon dioxide could have affected the samples from Thera itself were shown to be irrelevant, since similar ages were determined from contemporary archaeological contexts elsewhere in the Aegean. M., Bronk Ramsey, C., Dee, M., Golser, R., Kopetzky, K., Stadler, P., Steier, P., Thanheiser, U.

Nonetheless, it was argued by critics for many years that radiocarbon did not work for some reason, and, in particular, it was believed that radiocarbon gave different results versus Egyptian history and so could be questioned – but a key large-scale study by Bronk Ramsey et al. The Theran eruption and Minoan palatial collapse: new interpretations gained from modelling the maritime network.

The Thera (or Santorini) volcanic eruption in the southern Aegean is the largest known of the past 12,000 years (Johnston et al.

2014) and sent ash (tephra) and tsunami over a large area of the east Mediterranean (the latter reached the Levant: Goodman-Tchernov et al. The eruption buried, Pompeii-like, a large Bronze Age town at Akrotiri on Thera (Santorini) – disrupting long-established trade and communications networks in the region (Knappett et al. This great mid 2 millennium BC volcanic eruption appears self-evidently an event of historical importance. A correct answer has proved a long, difficult, and controversial topic over the past several decades, pitting an established archaeological synthesis based around linkages of material culture and stylistic traits across the Aegean and east Mediterranean to proto-historical Egypt, against science-based dating techniques.