“Sinking Atlantis?”-The Downfall of the Minoan Civilization

October 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm (Art History)

Minoan Octopus Vase

Minoan Octopus Vase

As the first complex civilization of the western world, The Minoans populated the entire island of Crete, along with “other Aegean islands and parts of Turkey (PBS).”  They traded their dynamic art and pottery with both Spain and Mesopotamia and their writing, roads and intimidating naval fleet put the Minoan society centuries ahead of their ancient Greek neighbors.  Confident of their naval power, the Minoans built their cities along the favored coastline without protective walls.  The civilization prospered until about 1600 BCE, when it suddenly, essentially disappeared.  As documented by the PBS special Secrets of the Dead: Sinking Atlantis, a team of scientists, including an archaeologist, a geologist and a tsunami expert, set out to discover the true cause of the Minoan demise.

At the time of Minoan decline, there was a devastating volcanic eruption (Thera) on the island of Santorini.  Minoan settlements “in the shadow of the volcano” were destroyed by lava, but evidence suggests that the disaster also resulted in a series of devastating tsunamis, which all but wiped out the Minoan people of Crete (PBS).  Although this theory contradicts previous assessments, I think the evidence is sound.  The scientific team discovered a geological layer containing an otherwise unexplainable mixture of components, including pottery, building materials, volcanic rock, cattle bones, sea shells and deep sea life.  Radio carbon dating of a cattle bone found in this amalgamated layer verified that it was formed during the same period as the Thera eruption.  Furthermore, the experts found evidence of volcanic pumice at high altitudes around the island and excavated buildings exhibited evidence of “blow out”—entire facing walls wiped away with side walls still intact (PBS).  Severely weakened by this onslaught of water and ash, The Minoans fell prey to their Mycenaean neighbors to the north.  Just as the myth of the Knossos labyrinth and Minotaur are supported by the labyrinthine structures and evidence of cannibalism found on Crete, it is interesting to consider the legend of Atlantis may have also originated with Minoan culture.

Legend of the Minotaur

Legend of the Minotaur

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