22. The Bronze Age’s Most Consequential Natural Disaster
Few natural disasters have ever had a greater impact on the trajectory of history and shaped the course of events than did the Thera Eruption, circa 1642 – 1540 BC. It took place in what is today the Greek island of Santorini and was one of the most powerful volcanic eruptions in recorded history, four times as powerful as the gigantic Krakatoa explosion of 1883. It sundered the island of Thera, and wiped out the flourishing Minoan settlements of nearby Akrotiri and surrounding islands.
However, that was not close to the entirety of its impact. The Thera Eruption and its aftermath also gave rise to the legend of the vanished civilization of Atlantis, which was doomed by a natural catastrophe and swallowed by the sea. Beyond legend, however, the eruption was one of history’s most impactful natural disasters. Its consequences outlasted its own era, had knock-on effects and set in motion a chain of causation that led directly to the world in which we live today.