Tag Archive | how Minoan civilization became extinct

How did the Great Minoan Civilization Vanish All of a Sudden?

Minoan Civilization is credited by historians as the first great civilization in Europe. Minoans existed before the classical Greeks in the Bronze Age. The civilization was named after their legendary King Minos. The Minoan civilization was very advanced for their times and it consisted of skilled artists and intelligent engineers. Research has also proved that vast populations of Minoans were merchants who engaged in overseas trade. This small island civilization controlled territories in the Mediterranean, Greece, Greek Islands and expanded all the way to the Black Sea. They were a sophisticated population of people who introduced the first written language in Europe known as the Linear A. They were also the first to construct paved roads in their cities.

Linear A Language

Linear A – First Written Language in Europe


The island was located somewhere in the middle of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and fell at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia. The island where the Minoans resided was known as Crete. Archeological find shows that this magnificent civilization had existed from the 7th millennium BC. Evidence also shows that Crete had no less than 90 cities and Knossos was the most important one among them.

According to researchers most of the palaces and other exceptional buildings of Crete were destroyed by an anonymous force in about 1700 BC. Historians speculate that the reason of such destruction could be a powerful earthquake, volcanic eruptions to an outside invasion. Though some of the magnificence was destroyed yet the Minoan civilization flourished till 15th century BC. In the 15th century most of the palaces and villas sitting in the countryside were destroyed and finally the civilization folded up when their great city Knossos was destroyed in 1375 BC. Recent research proves that before the destruction of Knossos the island of Crete fell in the hands of Mycenaean’s and the Minoans had already abandoned the island.

Knossos in Crete

A Painting of how the Magnificent Town of Knossos Might have Looked


What is most mysterious is how the Minoan civilization was wiped from the pages of history at the height of their power. For thousands of years the world has been seeking an answer for this sudden disappearance. The researchers are varied in their answers. Early in the 20th century a streak of light appeared when a group of researchers confirmed that the Minoan Civilization was wiped out by the sudden eruption of Mount Thera. But the joy was short lived as archeologists soon discovered some clay tablets that the civilization had existed further 50 years after the devastation caused by volcanic eruption of Mount Thera.

Minoan Pottery in Crete

Samples of Minoan Pottery


In the latter half of 20th century a Volcanologist, Dr. Floyd McCoy started finding answers to the real cause of extinction of Minoan Civilization. He found that there was definitely a volcanic eruption which devastated Crete, but it was also followed Tsunami that battered the northern coast of the island. In 1997 Dr. Dale Dominey-Howes, who is a British geologist started collecting samples as a part of his probe. He drilled deep and took mud samples from the Central part of Crete. On analysis of this sample it was revealed that mud was deposited layer by layer for thousands of years. He also found a fossilized shell in the sample that lives only in deep water. This shell could have been brought inland only by a tidal wave. He also found a Minoan Palace directly under the place where he had gathered the sample. This meant that a Tsunami definitely hit Crete.

The study conducted by both McCoy and Dominey-Howes help us reach to a point about what might have really happened and how the grandiose Minoan Civilization vanished.

Mount Thera causes Devastation

Volcanic Eruption of Mount Thera


  • Mount Thera arose and there was a volcanic eruption that killed a large population and even eradicated some of palaces and big buildings in Crete. But civilization still continued to flourish.
  • Magnitude of this volcanic eruption was very large and threw huge amounts of ash and sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide has the capacity to cause climatic changes and thus the annual average temperature went down by one or two degrees.
  • The drop in summer temperatures was even more noticeable. For years Minoans suffered from cold and wet summers which ruined their crops.
  • The volcanic eruption and climatic changes also led to a series of Tsunamis that destroyed the coasts, coastal villages and even reached further inland.
  • The Minoan economy was ruined by inability to grow crops or venture at the sea. Poverty became evident in the society and there were feuds between upper class and lower class. Some people refused to obey the high temple at Knossos.
  • The piteous state of Crete attracted the attention of Greeks, who found it a favorable time to expand their territories. The Greek attack was the final nail in the coffin of Minoan civilization.

Until something different is discovered, this can be taken as the actual cause of fall of Minoan civilization.


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