13th International Congress of Cretan Studies, Ayios-Nikolaos, Greece, 5 - 09 October 2022, pp.141-142
Disasters, whether natural or anthropogenic, can be drivers of landscape and cultural change. The Late Bronze Age Thera eruption was one of the
largest natural disasters witnessed in human history. Its impact, consequences and timing have dominated the discourse of ancient Mediterranean studies for nearly a century. Despite the eruption’s high intensity and tsunami-generating capabilities, associated tsunami deposits are reported from relatively few locations. Even more surprising is the lack of human remains linked to the event; in fact, only one example has ever been suggested, based on observations in the mid-19th century. In contrast, descriptions of pumice, ash and tephra deposits are more widely published. A well-preserved volcanic ash layer and chaotic destructionhorizon have been identified in stratified deposits at Çeşme-Bağlararası, a western Anatolian/Aegean coastal archaeological site. In order to interpret these deposits, archaeological and sedimentological analysis were performed. According to the results, the archaeological site was hit by a series of strong tsunamis that caused damage and erosion, leaving behind a thick layer of debris, distinguishable by its physical, biological, and chemical signature. An articulated human skeleton discovered within the tsunami debris is an in-situ victim related to the Late Bronze Age Thera eruption event. This talk will discuss the unique preservation seen at the site and what it adds to the understanding of coastal deposit preservation more broadly.