A piece of olive tree found on Therasia will move the date of the explosion of the Santorini volcano a few decades later than currently estimated.
The wood was found in the area “Kimissi Thirassias”, the prehistoric settlement which lies on a hillside of the island once connected to Thira or Santorini, at least up to the Middle Bronze Age, before the volcano exploded.
The settlement is on top of a hill on the southern side of Therasia, and on the edge of the caldera that existed before the volcano explosion, that is variously dated from 1627 BC to 1600 BC. The wood belongs to the last stratigraphic phase before the explosion, Greek Culture Ministry said in a statement.
Therasia is one of the island of the Santorini group formed after the volcanic explosion, known as the Minoan eruption of Thera. The volcanic eruption was so big that separated Therasia from Thera (Santorini). The volcanic eruption, one of the largest volcanic events on earth in recorded history has been dated to the mid-second millennium BCE, 16th century BC
A team at the University of Arizona in Tucson tested the wood and the results show that “the wood dates absolutely to the early 16th century BC, therefore it places the Minoan-era volcano eruption several decades after the date supported until now.”
Excavations in recent years have revealed a large elliptical-shaped building and smaller constructions “ingenuously built into the volcanic rock face.
Excavations in 2018 focused in an area where research had shown possible architectural remains squeezed between layers of the explosion levels of the volcano.
“From the start of the excavation, lying in the ash and pumice layers were found very strong walls, built carefully and in straight lines, one of which was nearly seven meters long,” the ministry said.
The most important excavation area found so far goes down to a depth of two meters, to a platform running along the whole length of the south wall, raising new possibilities about the use of the space in the bronze age.
The excavation is carried out by the Ionian and Cretan Universities, the Cyclades Ephorate of Antiquities, an international research team, the city of Thera, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP) and the General Secretariat for Aegean and Island Policy.