Volcanic ash, victims, and tsunami debris from the Late Bronze Age Thera eruption discovered at Çeşme-Baglararas ı (Turkey)

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ŞAHOĞLU V., Sterba J. H., Katz T., ÇAYIR Ü., Gan U. G., Tyuleneva N., ...More

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol.119, no.1, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 119 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1073/pnas.2114213118
  • Journal Name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, Animal Behavior Abstracts, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EconLit, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, INSPEC, Linguistic Bibliography, MathSciNet, MEDLINE, Pollution Abstracts, Psycinfo, Public Affairs Index, Veterinary Science Database, zbMATH, DIALNET
  • Keywords: tsunami&nbsp, volcanic ash&nbsp, Minoan&nbsp, geoarchaeology&nbsp, Aegean, SANTORINI ERUPTION, MINOAN ERUPTION, TEPHRA, TEPHROSTRATIGRAPHY, CHRONOLOGY, DEPOSITS, RINGS, CRETE
  • Ankara University Affiliated: Yes


© 2022 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.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 (Volcanic Explosivity Index 7; Dense Rock Equivalent of 78 to 86 km) [T. H. Druitt, F. W. McCoy, G. E. Vougioukalakis, Elements 15, 185–190 (2019)] and tsunami-generating capabilities [K. Minoura et al., Geology 28, 59–62 (2000)], few tsunami deposits are reported. In contrast, descriptions of pumice, ash, and tephra deposits are widely published. This mismatch may be an artifact of interpretive capabilities, given how rapidly tsunami sedimentology has advanced in recent years. A well-preserved volcanic ash layer and chaotic destruction horizon were identified in stratified deposits at Çeşme-Baglararas ı, a western Anatolian/Aegean coastal archaeological site. To interpret these deposits, archaeological and sedimentological analysis (X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy instrumental neutron activation analysis, granulometry, micropaleontology, and radiocarbon dating) 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 and dog skeleton discovered within the tsunami debris are in situ victims related to the Late Bronze Age Thera eruption event. Calibrated radiocarbon ages from well-constrained, short-lived organics from within the tsunami deposit constrain the event to no earlier than 1612 BCE. The deposit provides a time capsule that demonstrates the nature, enormity, and expansive geographic extent of this catastrophic event.