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Cataclysm of the Ancients: The Day That Shook The Earth

Scholars and thinkers have long pondered over the riddles of supposed lost cities, and chiefly among them, the possibility that an advanced civilization the likes of the fabled Atlantis had once existed somewhere in the ancient world.

The distance modern man is held from ultimate realization of what the world that once existed was truly capable of, that is, among the minds and ingenuities of the ancient dwellers of this planet, is troublesome indeed. Part of the problem is that in these ancient prehistoric societies, the use of language to record their histories either did not exist, or in the event that they did, certain ancient languages may remain undeciphered. Then there are the cataclysms of the ancient world; the apocalyptic destroyers of civilizations that wiped clean the remnants of parts of this world that will never be recovered.

In more recent times, there have been similar natural phenomenon that have presented earth changing events, or those that were at least dangerously close to it. In 1908, what is believed to have been an asteroid exploded before colliding with the Earth, creating massive destruction over modern day Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia. The blast, known today as the Tunguska event, was said to have produced an eerie glow in the sky that could be seen as far away as Europe. A little further back in 1883, the volcanic island of Krakatoa between Java and Sumatra erupted in an explosion that could be heard as far away as Japan and Australia. The volcanic force of the eruption thrust stone and debris as high as seventeen miles into the air, and the skies within 100 miles of the Sunda Strait was darkened as though day had turned to night for a period afterward.

Neither of these incidents quite compare with one natural disaster that transpired in the ancient world, to which no other modern natural cataclysm would compare. The volcanic island of Santorin, known in ancient times as Thera, had been one among the handful of islands settled by Cretan colonists. It was located some seventy miles north of Crete, and though riddled by earthquakes, there had not been any direct indication that the volcano of Santorin was active until early in the fifteenth century, when a volcanic eruption consumed most of the island’s Cretan colonies.

Archaeological evidence suggests that the colonists had advance warning of this early disaster, likely as a result of one of the greater earthquakes that may have coincided with it. Thus, it appears the majority of the colonists had managed to escape. Furthermore, despite the numerous earthquakes and volcanic eruption that consumed their first established settlements there, the colonists–some of them, at least–appear to have returned, as evidence of new settlements above the volcanic debris were unearthed during excavations there. However, the greatest disaster was still yet to come, in a third and final act that geological evidence suggests would have literally shaken the ancient Earth.

When the largest eruption on Santorin occurred, the resulting blast was of epic proportions–estimated to have been far greater than the Krakatoa blast of 1883. Settlements on Crete’s northern coast, some seventy miles away, were destroyed by the blast. The inferno was of such magnitude that, like Krakatoa, the core of the blast collapsed inward on itself some time afterward, producing a gulf into which the sea poured, upsetting the surrounding ocean and producing tidal waves as much as 150 feet high that further pounded Crete’s northern coast. The impressive destruction leveled a large swathe of the Cretan colonies, which archaeologists believe had been in political and cultural decline already for some time, even before the hell that spewed forth from Santorin island.

The volcanic crater at Santorini Island as seen today.

The volcanic crater between Santorin and Therasia Islands as seen today. The volcanic core protrudes near the center of the gulf between them.

In fact, radiocarbon dating from the period seems to show that there were indeed massive changes occurring on this planet that nearly coincided with the eruption at Santorin. Around the time that RC dating methods indicate that the blast took place, some variety of climactic event had occurred in the Northern Hemisphere that appeared to be linked with famine in parts of Asia, as well as dendrochronological (tree ring) data evidenced from parts of Europe, which indicate a massive climactic event that occurred in around 1628 BC.

Could this be the source of the decline that had begun prior to the destruction that followed the blast at Santorin Island? Despite the changes occurring there in the 1620s BC, technological developments that include the earliest use of running water piped into homes anywhere in Europe were discovered amidst the Cretan colonies here, including hot water that was likely heated by geothermal energies related to the volcano that would eventually consume the island’s inhabitants.

In relative terms, these kinds of advancements seen in the Cretan colonies helped them rank among some of the greatest in the ancient world. It’s easy to see why some scholars have put forth the notion that the Atlantean legends themselves might have stemmed from the advancement, and subsequent destruction, of the Cretan colonies at Santorin.

 

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Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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