In DepthArchaeology

Study reignites debate about when Thera blew its top

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Science  17 Aug 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6403, pp. 634
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6403.634

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Summary

Hundreds of years before the Trojan War, the volcanic island of Thera in the Aegean Sea blew its top in an explosion that rocked the ancient world. But when exactly did it happen? The eruption spread ash across the eastern Mediterranean, so a precise date could pin down the chronologies of ancient cultures including the Greeks, Minoans, and Egyptians. Archaeologists and radiocarbon daters have battled fiercely over the timing. By correlating Egyptian records and pottery, archaeologists put the eruption as early as 1500 B.C.E. But radiocarbon data pointed to a date more than 100 years earlier. A new study promises a truce. By re-examining the calibration curve used to turn radiocarbon dates into calendar years, researchers have broadened the possible dates of the eruption to include the traditional archaeological date of the 16th century B.C.E.