Archaeologists have found an ancient tsunami victim on the Turkish coast

The human skeleton lies in sediment in the ruins of settlements in present-day Turkey.

The remains of a 3,600-year-old tsunami victim.
Photography: Vasif Shahoglu

A team of archaeologists and geoscientists has just found the victims of an ancient tsunami on the Turkish coast. The victims – a man and a dog, now only skeletons – were likely killed after a massive volcanic eruption 3,600 years ago.

The eruption was the eruption of the volcano Thera on the island Santorini, which happened around 1620 BC The eruption was so strong that most of Santorini was destroyed; a piece of the island that remains is today a popular tourist destination. The eruption caused devastation in the Mediterranean, because a huge tsunami started from the island and most of the region was covered with ashes.

No wonder the event is listed as possible origin the myth of Atlantis or the Egyptian plagues spoken of in Bhad victims, such as recently discovered individuals in Turkey. The team’s recent discovery was logged in this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Two skeletons were found in Cesme-Baglararasi, a settlement on the Turkish coast that was occupied from the middle of the third millennium BC to the 13th century BC, the paper said. Archaeologists have previously found Late Bronze Age artifacts at the site. But recently, ashes and tephra—material ejected in volcanic eruptions-were discovered on site. Researchers have been able to track volcanic material in Turkey until the eruption of Santorini.

“The impact of this eruption and the tsunami it created was much stronger, reaching more regions than previously suggested,” study co-authors Beverly Goodman, a maritime geoarchaeologist at the University of Haifa in Israel, and Vasıf hoahoğlu, a maritime archaeologist at Ankara University. Turkey, wrote in the wrist email. “Çeşme-Bağlararası is the northernmost place with tsunami deposits investigated so far, and is unique in that it is a place with very clear cultural and commercial maritime contacts with the Minoan world.”

But in addition to the volcanic material at the site, the team also found evidence that the ocean visited the interior. In addition to human and dog remains at the site, researchers found shells and hedgehogs. They found a structure with a wall collapsing inwards; the dark, muddy sediment seemed to leach into the wall, causing it to implode.

The materials appeared to have entered the site from one direction, leading the team to conclude that it was not the result of an earthquake. The research team is not sure if the man – a healthy young man, maybe a teenager – died from drowning, trauma with a blunt object or even suffocated under the ruins of the tsunami. But they are actively investigating the issue.

Aerial image of the archeological site, bordered on all sides by modern buildings.

The site of Çeşme-Bağlararası, which was hit by a tsunami at the time of the Thera eruption.
Photography: Vasif Shahoglu

The team will date the skeletons in the coming months; if dating from the same time frame as the eruption There, the remains of humans and dogs would be some of the few victims of the cataclysmic event ever found. (One other the skeleton was allegedly seen during archeological work in Theresa, western island of Santorini, 1886.)

“This research – we think it will open the eyes especially of scientists working on the Aegean Sea. For decades, the primary focus of the Theran eruption study has focused mainly on the issue of dating or impact and the nature of the eruption itself, the distribution of ash, along with the tsunami it produced. ” Goodman and Şahoğlu said.

“However, only a few locations with tsunami deposits have been reported, and none of them with human casualties. This lack of human casualties was an enigma that left a real gap in knowledge of the human experience associated with the event, ”they added.

However, perhaps the most useful elements of the new work are the nine new radiocarbon eras taken from different materials at the site. The date of Thera’s eruption is still controversial; some think the eruption was around 1530 BC (give or take a decade) or around 1620 BC Last year, a team of dendrochronologists dated the eruption to 1560 BC, based on wooden rings used in an ancient Phrygian tomb. However, dates from Çeşme-Bağlararası indicate that the deposits cannot be older than 1612 BC, potentially further limiting the dates of the eruption there.

But the age of the skeletons will be helpful other than determining whether they were indeed victims of the Thera event. Marine material can be difficult to accurately date with radiocarbon dating, so some researchers use different tsunami dating methods. One team used optically stimulated luminescence technology last year to understand when the paleocunami hit the Levantine coast.

More interesting data will surely come from Çeşme-Bağlararası and the individuals – both humans and dogs – who died there. And maybe in time there will be more northern locations that show the extent of Terina’s damage.

More: Which volcanoes are the most late for eruption?

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Naveen Kumar

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