Eruption The physical features of the present island of Thera and the archaeological artefacts uncovered at Akrotiri have provided us with a physical and historical puzzle. In this section I will investigate one part of the puzzle – The main features of the destruction of the Bronze-Age Island and society of Thera. The Earthquakes When the late Bronze-Age island of Thera erupted nothing truly scientific would have been known. It would have been seen as the ‘wrath of the gods’ rather than a geophysical phenomenon because of the undersea movement of the earth. Between Earthquake and Eruption
The next issue for debate is the time between the earthquake and the eruption and the possible reactions of the Theran people. The proper understanding of the sequence of events on Thera has only come to light in the past twenty or so years. Geophysical exploration of the island and the area around it and archaeological excavations at Akrotiri, have revealed a realistic pattern to the final times of Thera. Other Evidence When the archaeologists excavated Pompeii and Herculaneum in southern Italy they uncovered a large Roman town which had been covered by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
The area had also experienced earthquakes before the major eruption. Pompeii was many times larger than Akrotiri but one important part of the finds at Pompeii was the body remains. There have been no bodies found at Akrotiri or other parts of the island so far. Stages of the Eruption There is no archaeological evidence for how long the full series of eruptions lasted on Thera. However, we can examine the available evidence and consider how many stages there were in the eruption.
The stages in the eruption of a volcano have tell-tale signs. After the earth tremors or earthquake the volcano might have a small eruption of materials. These will be deposited across a smaller area but leave distinct evidence. If there was a significant time gap between eruptions, the top layer of the landscape would show signs of erosion or rebuilding by the Therans, before being covered again. Archaeologists and historians cannot understand all the technical aspects of a site. They rely on other experts.
In this case they encouraged volcano experts to help them. Both Marinatos and Doumas realised that as archaeologists they only had some of the necessary expertise to understand the actual eruption. Volcano experts and geologists also have investigated Thera and the surrounding region in a scientific way. There were definite signs of a number of eruptions but no evidence of erosion between eruptions. This supports their conclusions that Akrotiri was partly covered and damaged and then soon afterwards it was completely buried—for centuries.