Archaeologists Find Ancient Tsunami Victim on the Turkish Coast

A team of archaeologists and scientists just found the bodies of people who were killed in an ancient wave on the Turkish coast. The skeletons of a human male and dog are from 3,600 years ago.

The Thera volcano on the island of Santorini erupted around 1620 BCE. The portion of Santorini that remains is now a popular tourist destination after the eruption. The eruption wreaked havoc on the Mediterranean, as a huge wave hit from the island and much of the region was blanketed in ash.

The recent discovery of individuals in Turkey is proof that an event like the Atlantis myth or the Egyptian plagues had victims. The team's recent discovery was reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The two skeletons were found at eme-Balararas, a settlement on the Turkish coast that was occupied from the mid-third millennium BCE through the 13th century BCE. Archaeologists have found artifacts at the site before. Ash and tephra have been found at the site. The volcanic material in Turkey was traced back to the Santorini eruption.

The impact of the eruption and the waves it created were much stronger and reached more regions than was previously thought. The northernmost site with tsunami deposits so far investigated is eme-Balararas, which is a site with clear cultural and commercial maritime contacts with the Minoan World.

The team found evidence that the ocean had visited inland. The researchers found shells and urchins at the site. They found a structure with a wall that had collapsed inward, and it appeared that a dark silty substance had washed into the wall, causing it to collapse.

The materials entered the site from one direction, leading the team to conclude it wasn't the result of an earthquake. The research team doesn't know if a healthy young man died from being drowned, or if he died from being crushed under the debris from the tsunami. They are looking into that question.

The human and dog remains would be some of the few victims of the Thera eruption if they were to be dated the same time as the skeletons. Theresia, the western island of Santorini, was the site of archaeological work in 1886.

This research will be an eye opener for scientists working in the Aegean. For decades the primary focus of research on the Theran eruption was on the dating issue, the impact, and the nature of the eruption. They said, "Goodman and aholu."

Only a few sites have been reported with deposits from the waves, and none of them have human victims. The lack of human victims has left a knowledge gap regarding the human experience associated with the event.

Nine new radiocarbon ages were taken from different materials on the site, which is perhaps the most useful part of the new work. Some think the Thera eruption was around 1530 BCE, while others think it was around 1620 BCE. The eruption of 1560 BCE was based on the tree rings of timber used in an ancient tomb. The dates from eme-Balararas show that the deposits can not be older than 1612 BCE.

The ages of the skeletons will help determine if they were victims of the Thera event. Marine materials can be hard to date accurately with radiocarbon dating, so some researchers use different methods to date tsunamis. A team used luminescence technology to figure out when a paleotsunami hit the coast.

There will be more interesting data coming out of eme-Balararas and the individuals that died there. The extent of Thera's damage will come in time.

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