20. The Thera Eruption Altered the Trajectory of History in Fascinating Ways
The Minoans were a trading power oriented towards Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean and were strongly influenced by those civilizations. While the Minoans flourished, the Aegean world in their thrall was oriented in the same direction, strongly influenced by the Egyptian and eastern civilizations as well. Thera’s weakened Crete and the Minoans sufficiently to create a power vacuum in the Aegean, which was filled by the emerging Mycenaeans in mainland Greece. They conquered Crete and destroyed the Minoans, and became the dominant power of the Aegean. Unlike the Minoans, the Mycenaeans’ energies were not focused on trade with Egypt and the Levant.
Instead, they focused on the colonization of the Aegean, the western coast of Asia Minor, the Black Sea coast, and the western Mediterranean. That change of orientation significantly reduced Egyptian and eastern influences upon the Greeks who flourished centuries later, long after the Mycenaeans had themselves disappeared. When they flourished, the Greeks did so as a civilization and culture distinct from those of Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean, rather than an extension and outpost of those civilizations. Western civilization is founded upon that of Ancient Greece, so western civilization and its impact on the modern owe much to the Bronze Age Thera Eruption.