Giant Tsunami Destroyed Ancient Minoan Athens

One of the greatest tragedies to strike a civilized empire was the nearly total destruction of the Minoan civilization 3,500 years ago.  Its fall was a tremendous tragedy in so many ways.  Tiny shreds of this amazing people have come down through the mists of the past such as names of various places and in Greek religious mythological stories.  But aside from modern archeology digging up the past, these people vanished nearly totally by 1400 bc.  We suspect this was because of the great caldera event when Thera blew up.  And there is a rising suspicion that vast tsunamis literally swept away much of this great civilization.

An Elegant Lady wearing a very finely woven dress with exposed breasts and lots of jewelry, enjoying a pleasant Theran afternoon, watching the sea.


The Minoan people didn’t have a rotting empire on the verge of collapse.  They were going from technological success to mercantile advances.  Unlike the rigid ideological pyramidical dictatorship of Egypt, for example, the Minoan civilization was decentralized and domestic, a feminized culture not a militant society.  Since the sea faring traders of Minos were scattered about the entire Mediterranean Sea as well as possibly, the Black Sea, there could be no centralized government controlling all of this far-flung activity.


This meant, no one could enforce political or ideological dogma and thus, this was one of the freest-thinking, dynamic empires ever seen on this planet…only to be totally wiped out very suddenly.  No imperial rot, in this case, but the Hammer of the Gods nailed the Minoan fate.


Sinking Atlantis | Secrets of the Dead | PBS Video: I watched this show from PBS which is streaming online, very carefully.  There are a number of experts who contest the idea that a tsunami killed off the entire Minoan empire.  But it looks increasingly, like it did.  When I was young and living on a mountain (Kitt Peak), I was fascinated by the Minoan empire because it seemed as if all the major buildings were on mountain tops.  Mountains are fun places to live but have a very powerful draw-back: they are hell to climb up and down and thus, most humans by far, prefer to live in valleys.


But not all humans!  Rulers like mountains for various reasons.  First of all, anyone attacking you is very tired by the time they trudge up your mountain.  Second, gravity is your friend.  They have to throw rocks or shoot arrows upwards while you can roll huge boulders down on them, for example.  And obviously, you can see someone coming from very far away.  I suspect the Minoan power players liked living high above the ports because they could see ships coming from very far away.  Otherwise, the vast majority of the people lived….right next to the ocean.


This empire was entirely an ocean-based economy!  They were the master sailors of the Bronze Age, after all!  They even did pleasure sailing according to many wall paintings.  Much of their art and pottery has marine themes.  No culture exalted  odd sea creatures like the octopus (a very favorite art subject!) or dolphins (ditto) to the degree the Minoans enjoyed these animals.  They even made their pottery to look like sea shells!

Here is a close-up of the major breaking point in Crete.  The tsunami was still very powerful when it slammed into Crete, the small island at the northern edge of Crete was flattened by this wave.

The idea that a huge tsunami could sweep away the vast majority of these Sea People is not astonishing at all.  It is logical.  But there were survivors of the tsunami!  That is, the upper tier Minoans living on the mountain tops got to see the volcanic eruption and the tsunami…and the tsunami up close. It roared around them, destroying all the things they loved and needed to survive as a civilization.  And we know exactly how this looks, it happened to Ache, Indonesia, not very long ago.

The survivors were thunderstruck with horror.  You can hear them at first, yelling about saving people, and yelling, asking what is going on.  Then, as the thundering tsunami roars past more and more and more, endlessly, all we hear are people praying to their god to spare everyone.  There is tremendous despair and weeping.  When the sea withdrew, there was no screams of pain from survivors, just the few people in the few major buildings, mostly mosques, creeping out into this vast silence, the entire city virtually stripped from the face of the earth in less than 5 minutes.


The Minoan Catastrophe: The Theran Pyroclastic Surge Theory

The Minoan Atlantis Connection .

If this theory is validated by the evidence, it would strengthen the already solid archeological connection between the Aegean Minoans of Crete and Thera and Plato’s Atlantis. The pertinent quote from Benjamin Jowett’s translation of Plato’s Timaeus dialogue is: .

“But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea.” .

The ringed islands of Thera were utterly destroyed and its inner island, the Minoan’s densely populated international trading hub, had vanished into the sea. When combined with the almost instant holocaust of hundreds of thousands of people falling to their fiery deaths on Crete from the titanic eruption’s pyroclastic surge activity, it paints a scenario that corresponds well with Plato’s description.


I don’t think there was much of a fire after the fireball.  Perhaps, there was no fireball.  When the immense tsunamis swept Crete, it pretty much doused any fires.  I used some Google Earth shots to examine the landscape of not only Crete but some other islands that were probably totally swept by tsunamis when this epic volcanic event destroyed the Minoan empire.

To this day, we can see the devastation caused by this great tsunami.  This island is next to the famous island of Cythera.  Thera nearly totally swept away all humans and other living things, from this small island.  The mountainous backbone is the only part that wasn’t swept clear and to this day, I suppose due to the sea water poisoning the soil, there are no people living on the shorelines.  And there is considerable salt there.  Just like the parts of Asia swept by the Boxing Day tsunami.


Κοινότητα Αντικυθήρων

Antikythera has had many names in its history. Its ancient name was “Aigila” or “Aigilia”. Subsequently it became known as “Lioi” and “Sigilio”, names that were used until the seventeenth century. From the eighteenth century on it was called “Cerigotto”. (The larger island of Kythera was then called “Cerigo”, thus Cerigotto meant “little Cerigo”). The name Antikythera came later. The island lies 22 nautical miles south of Kythera and 18 miles north of Crete, in a location that controls the passage from the Aegean towards the open sea of the western Mediterranean. Today the only useful anchorage of the island is in the Bay of Potamos, exposed to the prevailing northerly winds. In ancient Antikythera, however, the seashore seems to have been about two and a half meters higher than it is today. As a result, until the early Christian era, the small Bay of Xeropotamos extended deeper inland, and provided a small but relatively safe “secret” harbor. Archeological finds show that the oldest settlement on the island was established in the late Neolithic period and the early Bronze Age, or 4000-3000 BC. The Minoans left few traces on the island, but it is likely that it came under their control as they sought to secure navigation throughout the Aegean. No evidence has been found of settlement between the Minoan period and the end of the fourth century, though we know that the island, by virtue of its location, was always a useful hideout and base of operations for pirates.




The Minoans definitely had bases there!  They were on ALL the islands!  Every one of them.  The islands that didn’t face the fury of the Thera tsunami didn’t get swept clean.  Below is a painting by Watteau created right before the fury of Revolution swept away the pleasure-seeking nobility who were living like the Minoan princes.  This depicts the happy couples leaving the island of Cythera.

Note how they are in a green and pleasant place.  This island is supposed to be the birthplace of Aphrodite. But in actuality, it is a desperate place for it was pretty much destroyed by the 1600 BC tsunami.  The island has very few people even today.  But I bet, back then, it was a major shrine for Minoan sailors.

This is the north shore of Crete right where the 1600 AD tsunami swept away a major Minoan port city.


Note how it is nearly identical to the east shore of Sri Lanka which was totally swept clean by the distant earthquake tsunami on Boxing Day.




DUSASTER ARCHAEOLOGY – Tsunami Generated from the Eruption of the Volcano of Santorin in the Bronze Age – Dr. George Pararas-Carayannis

Thus, the occurrence of large tsunamis is quite usual for the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Archipelago. Many destructive tsunamis originated from a the Hellenic arc region near the island of Santorin. In AD 365 a destructive tsunami struck the Island of Crete and was reported as far as Alexandria, where ships were carried inland and left in the streets of the city. On 26 September 1650, a destructive earthquake was accompanied by a submarine explosion from the Colombo Volcano, whose crater lies in the sea on the northeast of the island of Santorin. There was a devastating tsunami observed on the island of Ios, north of Santorin, and waves of up to 16 m were reported. In 1672, the islands of the Cyclades, and particularly Santorin, were again shaken by an earthquake. The island of Kos, to the east, was reported to have been “swallowed up” presumably by the resulting tsunami. The best documented and most recent tsunamigenic earthquake is the one that occurred on 9 July 1956 near the southwest coast of the island of Amorgos, killing 53 people, injuring 100, and destroying hundreds of houses (Galanopoulos, 1957). The waves were particularly high on the south coast of Amorgos and on the north coast of the island of Astypalaea. At these two places the reported heights of the tsunami were 25 and 20 m, respectively (Galanopoulos, 1960).

I drew this map based on what I saw in Indonesia.  It is quite possible that the wave swept over all of Crete’s central areas.  Note the hills to the south were not flooded.  But the rich farmlands in the valleys were not only swept clean of all the farmers and merchants, the land became extremely poor and thus, could no longer sustain the ruling class, if the rulers survived and I suspect, they did survive.
This is a screenshot from the PBS video showing the massive size of the wave coming out of Thera.  Of course, it utterly devastated the entire island of Crete even if it spared Knossos.  The earthquakes did considerable damage to that complex.



It is not known how high the waves of the Bronze Age tsunami were, but researchers (Marinos and Melidonis, 1959) found evidence of inundation on the west side of the island of Anaphi – wich is 25 km east of the island of Santorin – at heights ranging from 40 to 50 m above sea level. Other evidence of tsunami inundation was presumably found as high as 160 and 250 m on the northeastern side of the same island. At a greater distance away from Santorin, evidence of the tsunami height was found at 5 m above sea level north of Jaffa-Tel Aviv. This tsunami height – when corrected for eustatic change in sea level in the Mediterranean for the last 3500 years – would have been at least 7 m during the Bronze Age. . Could the tsunami generated by the explosion/collapse of the volcano of Santorin – or any tsunami for that matter – have been as high as 160 and 250 m on the northeastern side of the island of Anaphi ? Such tsunami runup appears to be extremely unreasonable for either tectonically or volcanically generated tsunamis on any open coastline. In view of recent studies of the Santorin caldera formation , and other geophysical measurements and observations, the following is an evaluation of the tsunami source mechanism from caldera collapse alone. .

The extension and normal faulting within the Aegean plate are consistent with a NE-SW trending graben along which the Santorin volcanic field has developed (Figure 2). Eruptions of Santorin have occurred from fissures located within this graben. Furthermore, there is evidence of a much older flooded pre-Minoan caldera present on the southern half of the volcanic field of Santorin before the 1490 BC eruption (Heiken and McCoy,1984). This caldera was approximately 5- 6 km in diameter. The original depth of this caldera is not known, but its present average depth is 280 m. The presence of this preMinoan caldera would reduce the volume of the Minoan caldera to 19 km3, which is reasonably close to the estimated volume of magma extruded during the Minoan eruption (Watkins et al. (1978), namely between 13 and 18 km3 (dense rock equivalent). Furthermore, the vent development and caldera collapse occurred in four phases (Figure 3) (Heiken and McCoy,1984). Thus, a long-time history of caldera collapse is inferred.



I include this study to show that there is immense debate about the tsunami and eruption of Thera.  But this brings me to another place that I fear was also hammered very hard by these immense, immense tsunamis: Athens.  The whole story of Athens always bemused me greatly.  Archeologists talk about ‘Mycenaean’ civilizations that ran alongside, but much further inland, of the mighty Minoan confederation.  Indeed, the artwork and building skills of the Mycenaean kingdoms was far below that of the Minoan seafaring communities.



It is very obvious that the Minoan boat people dominated all the shoreline areas of the continent as well as all of the islands.  Since Athens is a prime port, why wouldn’t the Minoans control it, too?  They controlled all the islands around Athens, after all!  And the answer is, of course, they DID control Athens!  But there is nothing on the plains of Athens to show archeologists that any Minoans lived there.  And this is obviously because everything from that time period was swept away, totally and utterly.  Let’s look at the geological data to see if my contention is true:
Most of the present as well as all previous cities in Athens has the masses living on the plains below.  Over them towers the Acropolis.  It sits on this huge stone thing that sits defiantly in the center of the plain with nothing around it but flattened hills.
But look at the sides of this mountain!  It is sheer!  How on earth did it get this way?  Erosion would dictate that it have sloping sides, not cliffs!
Seen from above, I outlined some of the shape of this odd hill.  Note how the sides do slope down like normal hills only to be sheered off on all sides.
I would suggest a tsunami did this!  Look at the rock: it is shaped exactly like a ship.  And the prow faces the angry oceans.  The water sweeping around this rocky hillside shaped it to look like a boat.  This is why the front is pointed and the rear is wider than the front.
Here is another hillock in Athens: it, too, is sheered off part way up.  We know from the tsunamis that slammed into Sumatra, some of the waves destroyed the world’s biggest cement factory, heaved a huge ship all the way up the shore and into the mountainside and the waves shot up the mountainside to an amazing degree.
The shattered remains of the Minoan culture did live on in Athens.  Unlike many other cultures, the Athenians clung to their female goddesses even as they reduced women to near chattel in their legal structures.  The three goddesses, Athena, Aphrodite and Artemis continued to reign serenely even as the culture that gave birth to them faded away nearly entirely.  Even the aesthetics of the nude and semi nude so beloved of the ancient Greeks sprang out of the Minoan ethos, it didn’t come from the Dorian invaders themselves.  And the memories of Troy also came from the death throes of the last hold outs of the Minoan empire.



You can bet, Helen looked like the glorious Theran lady at the top of this page!  The other issue here is obvious: the Mediterranean is just as vulnerable as the Pacific when it comes to great tsunamis.  And frankly, many of our shores are equally in danger.  The global warming people get all in hysterics about rising oceans.  Well, as Greek myths show us, Poseidon can mount his black horses and come roaring ashore any time he wishes.



And the earth isn’t this static, status quo place.  It is very dynamic.  Indeed, the entire plains of Greece we see today are the bare remains of a major body of land, all of the islands of the Eastern Mediterranean were actually hillocks like the ones in Athens, just 12,000 years ago or so.  During the Ice Ages.



If aliens from outer space came to our planet 24,000 years ago, they would probably be trying desperately to keep half of the Northern Hemisphere locked in ice!  They would worry about flooding the Greek plains that are now totally underwater.  They would try to preserve the giant sloths munching on trees in Arizona.  And you can bet, they would build their alien cities on the sea shores. Everyone does this except for the rulers who like tall hills for the reasons I gave, above.



The lessons we must learn is pretty obvious: we won’t cooperate with nature, we will defy nature.  And She is older than all the gods and goddesses created by humans.  That is, She does whatever She wants and doesn’t give a fig, if this crushes or sweeps us away.  So we have to keep a wary eye on the ocean and hope it doesn’t heave up over us and for the rulers on mountains, these can blow up or crash down. And this is why we have religions: at least we can yell at someone for all this.

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Filed under Geology, nature, religion

22 responses to “Giant Tsunami Destroyed Ancient Minoan Athens

  1. JSmith

    Tsunami vs. pyuroclastic flow? I suspect anyone near Thera when it erupted would have gotten to experience both.

    “Erosion would dictate that it have sloping sides, not cliffs!”

    Not necessarily – sometime rock wears away smoothly and sometimes it shears off, leaving a sheer cliff face. If it didn’t, rock climbing would be sheer boredom.

  2. ralph

    The left today that supports world government to stop climate change bears little resemblance to the left of 100 years ago, which favored civil liberties and social liberality and was willing to do anything to end war. Now it has diverted its energies to a preposterously unworkable scheme based on pseudo-science. This is a terrible tragedy. But you know what is most tragic to me about this? This whole hysteria led to a fantastic diversion of energy on the left side of the political spectrum. Instead of working against war and the police state, issues on which the left tends to be pretty good, instincts were diverted to the preposterous cause of creating a statist system for global thermometer management.


  3. emsnews

    Ralph, do you read me at all? I wonder. Um, who exactly published a story about how global warming will make both Russia and Canada’s bread basket lands immensely greater? And that Greenland would become a flowering, rich land? And Antarctica is an entire continent that once sported dinosaurs and forests?

  4. Wonderful scholarly article, very informative and evokative. One correction: I think the sloths are in the Amazon, not Arizona.

  5. emsnews

    No, Arizona had giant sloths and mastodons during the ice ages. These creatures went all the way from Sonora to the tip of South America.

  6. nah

    earthquakes are devistating… had the big one in pakistan too… ache…
    california is in for a ride too sooner or later… a big one in cali would be devestating… seems like tons of citys are rite on the fault or beach or whatever

    planet is soaked with water

  7. buffalo_ken

    I don’t know if this will post and I don’t really care because I feel compelled to present a link as follows:

    And out of respect for the author of that site I will say no more on this topic, but I know for me, I learned a whole lot lurking there. For that I am thankful.



    ELAINE: I am very tolerant but people have to behave themselves to a minor degree. Remember: this is my home planet.

  8. the real mcCoy

    You’ll have to excuse me
    for NOT wanting to donate for bunch of opinionated jibberish and guessing.

  9. Pingback: Death Wish Humans Love Geological And Climate Disaster Zones « Culture of Life News

  10. Andrew S

    Great read and there are some very scientific and creditable reasonings here… Wish people would read the artical, re-read it and have an open mind… Its only a matter till some hunk of island plops into an ocean and makes the Bande’ Arche Tsunami look like some minor inundation…

    Anyhow, great artical and look forward to more!!

    Andrew 🙂

  11. Andrew S

    Great read and there are some very scientific and creditable reasonings here… Wish people would read the artical, re-read it and have an open mind… Its only a matter of time till some hunk of island plops into an ocean and makes the Bande’ Arche Tsunami look like some minor inundation…

    Anyhow, great artical and look forward to more!!

    Andrew 🙂

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  13. Boris

    I might have taken this lengthy diatribe more seriously if the author didn’t repeatedly refer to the date of the Minoan destruction as “1400 AD”, despite awareness that the author also stated it occurred 3500 years ago, and even once managed to label the date as BC.

    That kind of failure to shore up the minor details destroys greater credibility. That and the claim about the sheer cliffs being evidence of a tsunami.

    A for effort, C- for execution.

  14. emsnews

    OOPS. I was tired. Sorry. Thanks for pointing out my error. Will fix it.

  15. Pingback: Humans, Fires And Goats Deforest The Earth, Not Global Warming | Culture of Life News

  16. Pingback: Solon’s Ancient Athens: Model For America That Is Very Good Lesson For Today | Culture of Life News

  17. doug

    the ancient greece/ early america site is kaput, as are many, many others that point to information like this…

    if it’s so inaccurate, why are they being singled out, while countless, innumerable sites with gibberish are not targeted?

    if you had any idea how powerful the cia and others have gotten, you’d be soiling your drawers instead of objecting to minor errors



  20. emsnews

    I guess you worship Poseidon? He is, after all, the god in charge of tsunamis…

  21. Will Kirby

    A tsunami caused by Thera’s eruption could also give us the parting of the Red (Reed) Sea and the eruptions before it would explain the plagues of Egypt. Also the hebrews leaving Egypt would have seen in the distance smoke by day and fire (volcanic) by night before the two effects of a tsunami i.e backwash(to give near dry land) to begin with followed by the wave (drowning of the Egyptian soldiers. Simples!

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