Friday, December 22, 2006

Shrouded in Deceit – Leonardo's Last Laugh

Composite Photograph of the shroud

After 500 years we can at last spot the flaws in Leonardo's 15th century?

Greater contrast of negative image reveals detail

Anomalies resulting from projection of three images:

  • A giant figure – 6'8" at front, 6'10" at back!
  • Head too small for body – and displaced upwards! (projection of head added separately)
  • Face unnaturally thin; forehead and sides of face foreshortened, ears lost
  • Right arm/hand too long (double exposure of fingers)
  • Light circle on nose (effect of lens, centred on the face)
  • Back of head wider than front of head
  • Image area oxidized and dehydrated (result of using heat to burn chemical image into cloth. Chemical solution then washed off)

Other anomalies:

  • Hair hanging vertically, added later (on a shrouded, horizontal body hair would have fallen towards back of head)
  • Composed expression – odd for a torture victim!
  • No loin cloth but naked, with hands over genitals (sensitive to intended audience – or a cryptic joke?
  • 'Flowing blood stains' from a corpse? (added in separate process)

Positive image of the Shroud – as seen by the naked eye.

The Shroud is a biscuit coloured cloth 4.4 m by 1.9 m. The large marks are the result of a fire which burned the (folded) cloth and its subsequent repair, in 1532.

Carbon Dating of the Cloth

Such hullabaloo greeted the early identification of pollen ("as found in the Holy Land") in 1973 – yet carbon dating in 1988 at three different laboratories all agreed: the cloth was no older than the 14th century. At that time, the Crusaders brought back vast quantities of Infidel cloth, of much better quality than could be found in Christian Europe.

That the Shroud was fake was obvious – but then how was it done? No known painting technique could reproduce such an effect. This remained the last defense
of die-hard defenders of "authenticity."

But now we know better – the Shroud was not painted at all, it is a photograph!

Pity that 15th century Europe was still in the vicious grip of Holy Mother Church – we might have had the Box Brownie camera in time for the War of the Roses!

Leonardo – Sacrilegious 'Sorcerer' Outwits the Priests

"Many are those who trade in tricks & simulated miracles, duping the foolish multitude; and if nobody unmasked their subterfuges, they would impose them on everyone."

– Leonardo da Vinci (Manuscript F, Institut de France, 5v)

Best known for his artistic masterpieces Leonardo da Vinci revealed insights into everything from the human body to engines of war. He conceptualised objects as diverse as scissors, bicycles and helicopters. Living in the age of the Inquisition, a time when merely being a vegetarian might lead to execution, he had to remain ever vigilant of the censure of the Church. For its part, the Church was only interested in Leonardo's ability to artistically represent the Faith.

Commissioned to produce a better Shroud, he pioneered an early photographic technique, using lenses, a camera obscura, chromium salts and – in a wonderful satire on Church duplicity – his own face in lieu of Jesus Christ!

Head on the Shroud (left) and Leonardo da Vinci self-portrait (right).


On the one hand ...

The 'Shroud' is never mentioned in the New Testament – and nor is it ever referred to by early Christians.

On the other hand ...

'Holy Shrouds' were part of hugely profitable medieval fakery industry – more than 40 rival shrouds are known. The 'Turin Shroud' appeared suddenly on Good Friday, 1494!


The Devil's Magic? Camera obscura...

At least as early as Aristotle (4th century BC) it had been noted that a small hole into a darkened room throws a reversed and upside-down image of the outside scene onto the opposite wall. From at least the time of the Romans, it had been known certain materials reacted to light.

The challenge for Renaissance alchemist/artists – whilst avoiding the attentions of the Inquisition – was to capture and fix the projected image using the right material.

Leonardo, man of outstanding artistic skill and technical ingenuity, was equal to that challenge.

Leonardo's sketch of his "oculus artificialis" (artificial eye)
– a camera obscura.

When & Where?

Leonardo served several wealthy Renaissance patrons, including Giuliano de Medici, son-in-law of the Duke of Savoy. The House of Savoy (which became the Italian royal family) had acquired an earlier 'Holy Shroud' from a minor French aristocratic family, the de Charnys, around 1453.

This (painted) shroud had long since been denounced by the local bishop as "a fake used to defraud gullible pilgrims" but he had been silenced by the Pope. Nothing was seen of any shroud for thirty years.

Colluding with the House of Savoy, Pope Innocent VIII (the witch-burning pope, closely tied to Lorenzo de Medici) commissioned Leonardo to produce a 'better shroud' in 1492.

Under what threats Leonardo worked we can but speculate. Vegetarianism alone could have got him burned, let alone his homosexuality.

Two years later – no doubt after much experimentation – the 'Holy Shroud' appeared. In its positive form it was disappointing – and Leonardo was not paid!

By sheer serendipity, modern photography reversed Leonardo's image into an altogether more awesome artifact – and triggered off a new century of delirious 'Faith'.

The old alchemist would have laughed his socks off!

(Via World Mysteries.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Origins of Atlantis

The Eruption of Thera?

(1) "A Wonderful Empire"

"You do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your whole city [Athens] are descended from a seed or remnant of them which survived.
"The power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in from of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Hercules [Gibraltar]: the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands...Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island, and several others, and over parts of the continent, and furthermore the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Hercules as far as Egypt and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia [Italy]."
- Plato, Timaeus, 22c-23c; 24c-d

"So great was Atlantis that Plato had to shift its location to 'beyond the Pillars of Hercules' (outside of the Strait of Gibraltar), which in classical times was the standard location used in stories about lands far away in distance and/or time."
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

Plato claimed to have learned his story of the sinking of the lost continent of Atlantis from relatives who had passed it down from the great Athenian statesman Solon. Solon had reportedly traveled to Egypt and received his information from Egyptian priests at Sais in 559 B.C.E. The priests told him that the great disaster had taken place almost 10,000 years earlier, almost exactly a factor of ten too large for the eruption of Thera (which occurred around 1500 B.C.E. according to archeological dating or 1627 B.C.E. according to dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating.

"The story of Atlantis, if Plato did not invent it, may reflect some Egyptian record of this eruption, one of the most stupendous of historical times. "
- Encyclopaedia Britannica

"If a legend, passed down for nearly a thousand years before it reached Solon, and for an additional two hundred years before Plato finally committed it to paper, can, through successive retellings, expand an island culture into a continental one and dislocate it west a thousand miles, it is easy to believe that Plato's family, or the Egyptians, or both, stretch its age as well."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 45

(2) A Place Called Keftiu

"...There are papyrus documents that make references to early contacts between Egypt and a place called Keftiu, which is generally accepted to be Minoan Crete. Keftiu is first mentioned in Egyptian writings dating back to the third millennium B.C.:"
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 43

"Keftiu and Isy [Cyprus] are under awe of thee. I cause them to see their majesty as a young bull. Firm of heart, sharp of horns, who cannot be felled."

"If Solon had inquired more particularly about Keftiu, he would have been told that it was an island far away in the west. The Ipuwer papyrus uses the phrase, 'as far away as Keftiu.'...If Solon pressed them on the ultimate fate of Keftiu, the priests could certainly have told him that it disappeared from their records around the middle of the XVIII Dynasty [around the time of Tuthmosis III, Hatshepsut, and Amenophis II."
- J. V. Luce, Lost Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend (1969)

"J. V. Luce points out that the original name for Crete - Keftiu - is probably derived from a root meaning 'pillar', and that a western island containing a 'sky pillar', that is a lofty mountain helping to support the dome of the sky, would fit neatly into the frame of Egyptian Bronze Age mythology. A goddess [Nut] was said to hold the heavens on her back, and the sky pillars were the four points at which her arms and legs touched earth."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 45

"It is even possible that the Egyptian priests had some recorded material about the worship of sacred pillars which was so prevalent in Minoan Crete....Imagine Solon's reaction when confronted with this sort of information about ancient Keftiu. He could not have failed to associate it with the myth of Atlas, 'the Titan' who held the sky on his shoulders."
- J. V. Luce, Lost Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend (1969)

Poseidon and Cleito has five pairs of male children. "And the eldest, who was the first king, he named Atlas, and after him the whole island and the ocean were called Atlantis."
- Plato, Critias 114b

"In Greek, Atlantis and Atlantic are adjectival forms of Atlas, meaning '(the island) of Atlas' and 'the sea of Atlas' respectively....Now Atlas may once have been located well inside the Mediterranean before the gradual extension of Greek geographical knowledge pushed him to the west and located him on the High Atlas range in Morocco..."
- J. V. Luce, Lost Atlantis: New Light on an Old Legend (1969)

"Keftiu translates as wither 'the island of Keft' or 'the people of Keft', depending on which determinative is added to the Egyptian hieroglyph. The root keft has come into the twentieth century as the word 'capital'[originally of a pillar]."
"The identification of Keftiu with the Biblical Caphto, Luce explains, is emphasized by the Sargon of Akkad tablet, which refers to Kap-ta-ra as lying 'beyond the Upper Sea' (the Mediterranean). Biblical passages connecting Crete (Kaphtor) with the Philistines include: Genesis 10:14 ('and the Caphtorim when came the Philistines'), Amos 9:7, Jeremiah 47:4."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 46

"However, Luce himself admits that there may be some truth in the view proposed by Vidal-Naquet that the two confronted powers in the legend, Athens and Atlantis, represent in the mind of Plato the 'good' and 'bad' fates of Athens respectively. 'Good' Athens in the eyes of conservative Plato would be the city without navy, and with a well-stratified society of farmers and landowners. On the other hand, 'bad' Athens (Atlantis) 'would be a maritime state of shifty sailors and covetous merchants'."
- Christos G. Doumas Thera - Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean, p. 155

(3) Similarities Between Plato's Atlantis and Minoan Crete

"Upon examination of Plato's words on Atlantis as written in the dialogues Timaeus and Critias, we find many similarities between what archaeologists and historians know to be true for the Minoans, and characteristics Plato attributes to Atlantis and its occupants.
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

·"From an Egyptian point of view, [Plato's description of Atlantis] seemed...an apt descriptions of Crete: a gateway to the other Minoan island (the Cyclades) and the European continent beyond."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 154

"Atlantis was the way to other islands and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent."
- Plato, Timaeus, 24e

·"For a civilization said to be coming out of the Atlantic, the pattern of conquest is strange, moving, according to Plato, from the eastern Mediterranean shores of Greece, Libya and Egypt to the rest of the Mediterranean - toward, not from, Gibraltar - with no mention of conquest in northern Spain or along the Atlantic shores of Africa. Plato has described a civilization radiating out of the eastern central Mediterranean, from the direction of Minoan Crete."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 232

"...The island of Atlantis...had subjugated the parts of Libya within the Pillars of Hercules [Gibraltar] as far as Egypt, and Europe as far a Tyrrhenia [Italy]. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavored to subdue at a blow our country [Egypt] and yours [Greece], and the whole of the region within the straits [the Mediterranean]..."
- Plato, Timaeus, 24d

·Thera and Atlantis both experienced severe earthquakes and a volcanic eruption(s) so huge that only 5 islets, some no more than rocks, remain of Thera, and of Atlantis remained 'small islets, only the bones of a wasted body'.

·Both were wealthy, highly developed cultures, concerned with art, beauty, entertainment and personal comforts and adornments."
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

"Under the direction of archaeologist Christos Doumas, the excavations at Thera are revealing multistoried, exquisitely decorated buildings, complete with bathrooms and running water. Plumbing and other technologies emerging from the ash are of a complexity not seen again until the Islamic empire of the Middle Ages. The walls and streets are literally honeycombed with pipes."
"The abundance of plumbing suggests that fresh water ran so plentifully on ancient Thera that it must have sluiced continually through the underground sewage system, flushing the city clean."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 17

"[Poseidon] himself, as he was a god, found no difficulty in making special arrangements for the center of the island, brining up two springs of water from beneath the earth, one of warm water and the other of cold, and making every variety of food to spring up abundantly from the soil."
- Plato, Critias 114a

·"Plato spoke of bulls hunted with ropes within a temple in Atlantis. Archaeological evidence has shown the Minoans built bull rings, hunting the animals with nooses, (the only example of this kind of 'bullfight' in world history) and practiced 'bull jumping', either a sport or religious ritual. These practices gave rise to the legend (?) of the Minotaur, half man, half bull, secured within the labyrinth. "
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 41

"There were bulls who had the range of the temple of Poseidon; and the ten kings, being left alone in the temple, after they had offered prayers to the god that they might capture the victim which was acceptable to him, hunted the bulls without weapons, but with staves and nooses; and the bull which they caught they led up to the pillar."
- Plato, Critias, 119c

On Crete, "Minoan tombs were being found intact, unmolested by looters. One tomb yielded teacup-shaped vessels with scenes of bullfights engraved on their sides. The bulls were shown snared in ropes. Similar scenes were depicted on the palace walls of Knossos - scenes that differed from all other bullfights known though history in precisely the point Plato had emphasized: no weapons except ropes were used."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 41

·"Atlantis was a powerful thalassocracy, and ruled areas 'larger than Asia and Libya', with 'the docks full of tiremes (a kind of ship) and naval stores...the largest of harbors were full of vessels and merchants coming from all parts.' The Minoan area of sea control and economic influence included all of North Africa, the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Their fleet was unsurpassed in its size. Since all the countries in these areas were not even aware of each other's existence, certainly strange and exaggerated tales could have begun to circulate about the size, scope and wonders of the Minoan civilization.

·"Plato described Atlantis as alternating rings of sea and land, with a palace in the center 'bull's eye'. Interestingly, the remnants of post eruption Thera are circular around a deep, wide lagoon, with another small island located in the center of the lagoon. Perhaps Egyptians or other ancient travelers visited Thera long after the volcanic destruction ocurred, misinterpreted the geographical remains of the island, and began the legend of the rings of Atlantis. Looking 70 miles south to crescent shaped Crete, the ancient traveler could have easily assumed the ring system of Atlantis reached as far.
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

Recent geological examination of the strata of the island of Santorini (the modern name for Thera), reveals that a large open lagoon formed by the volcano's cauldera was present in classical times. This corresponds to Plato's description of Atlantis with its enclosed circular harbor and distinctive rose-colored earth.

"Before 1500 B.C. the sea must have been further inland, as has been shown by the well dug near the south gate of the site, where brackish water was struck at a depth of about 6 m in the layer of pumice and below the ash layer....The spot lies about 200 m inland, in the valley between the hill of Mesovouna (east) and the ride of Mavro Rhachidhi (west). This location, sheltered by the surrounding hills, would have been idea for of prehistoric Akrotiri. In my opinion, it is this harbor which is depicted in the wall-painting of the fleet from the West House [above]....The hilly landscape in the background is very reminiscent of the profile of the Mavro Rhachidhi ridge."
- Christos G. Doumas Thera - Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean, p. 55

·"Plato speaks if the stone quarried from under Atlantis; 'one kind of stone was white, another black, and a third red'. The first sight of Thera that modern day tourists see is the sheer cliffs remaining when the rest of the island dropped into the sea, and these cliffs are a breathtaking mix of white, black and red stone. A unique sight in the Aegean world.

·"Archaeologists have found an extensive and sophisticated system of sewers, drainage, drinking and bath water pipes in Crete and Thera. Private homes had flush toilets and bathtubs. It appears Minoans heated their houses and had hot and cold running water from hydrothermal vents. Plato describes the 'bringing up (of) two springs of water from beneath the earth... fountains, one of cold and another of hot water...there were the king's baths and also the baths of private persons.'"
- "The Minoan Civilization - Atlantis Found?"

·"The size and location of Atlantis's capital was also more in proportion with Crete or Thera than with Plato's Libya/Asia-sized continent. Plato's mythical palace was located halfway along the coast of the island, about fifty stadia (a stadia being less than half a mile) inland, on a low hill about four stadia across (Cirtias, 113). The real Minoan palace of Knossos was located halfway along the northern coast of Crete, on a low hill about four stadia across."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 154

"One curious revelation is that these priests had told Solon that his ancestors had lost the art of writing for awhile. Remarkably, that is exactly what happened, as was only learned by digging up Mycenaean sites. Around 1400-1200 BCE, the Mycenaean Greeks had a system of writing, 'Linear B', which they had learned from the Minoans. It was very different from the Greek alphabet of later times, being a syllabic script that was mixed with picto- and ideographs in the style of Japanese - and which was very unsuited for the Greek language (any one sign could stand for any of several syllables: ke -- ke, ge, khe, kes, ges, khes, ker, ger, kher, etc.) The surviving examples of it were used exclusively for bookkeeping at the Mycenaean palaces, and when the palaces fell, the script apparently went with them. The only memory of this writing in later times was Homer's reference to a tablet with 'magic signs' with this meaning: kill its holder."
- Loren Petrich

"One remnant of Minoan civilization is believed to have sailed southwest to Tunisia, where they settled in the Atlas Mountains and become the tribe known to the classical Greeks as the Atlantes. Another remnant went south, where a handful of talented refugees apparently became Egyptian nobles; and others almost certainly sailed east, bringing their distinctive architecture with them to the land they called Philistia, or Palestine, in what is now Israel's Mediterranean coast west of the Dead Sea."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 86

Other Theories of the Origin of the Legend

(1). During the Peloponesian War?

"Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state (Athens) in our histories but one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valor. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia. This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean for in those days the Atlantic was navigable and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles, the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together and was the way to other islands and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the straits of Hercules is only a harbor having a narrow entrance but that other is a true sea."
- Plato, Timaeus

"The only episode which fits this description which has been recorded as an historical fact is the circumnavigation of Africa by the Phoenician fleet sent forth by the Egyptian pharoah Neco shortly before the time Plato paints Solon as having heard the story in Egypt."
- Steve Whittet

"They had such an enormous amount of wealth as was never before possessed by kings and potentates and is not likely ever to be again. Because of the greatness of their empire many things were brought to them from foreign countries....They went on constructing their temples and palaces and harbours and docks... First of all they bridged over the zones of the sea which surrounded the ancient metropolis."
- Plato, Critias

"The only city built on a man made island in antiquity was the city of Tyre."
- Steve Whittet

"In the center was a holy temple dedicated to the worship of Cleito and Poseidon."
- Plato, Critias

Cleito and Poseidon were "deities associated with and not predating Phoenicia."
- Steve Whittet

"There occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune....The island of Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea."
- Plato, Timaeus

"...There is also a reference, contemporaneous to the time of Plato,to an island called 'Atalanta' which was destroyed by flooding and sinking beneath the sea after an earthquake in The Peloponesian War, Thucydides. Book III, chapter XI para 89 destroying an Athenian garrison. This is germane because in Timaeus the description of the destruction says: 'in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth and the island of Atlantis in like manner dissapeared into the depths of the sea."
- Steve Whittet

(2) The Devastation of Tantalis?

"Plato described a catastrophe involving earthquake and flood, yet the Thera event was a volcanic explosion. The Greeks were reasonably informed about ancient Cretan civilization - as echoed in the stories of Minos, Theseus and the Minotaur in the Labyrinth - so it seems unlikely that they would have, first, earnt about Crete from the Egyptians, and second, not recognised what their source was ostensibly describing. It also became clear by the1980s that the explosion of Thera did not, after all, bring about the end of Minoan civilization. It was time for a new approach to the Atlantis problem."
- Peter James, The Sunken Kingdom - The Atlantis Mystery Solved

According to archaeological evidence, Crete suffered from the eruption of Thera, but the Minoans survived to rebuild. Peter James argues that the story of Atlantis came from western Turkey, where a major Bronze Age city, the legendary Tantalis, was devastated by an earthquake and submerged beneath a lake.

The Eruption of Thera

Devastation in the Mediterranean

(1) Greater Than Krakatoa

"When Krakatoa exploded on August 26, 1883, it caused widespread destruction and loss of life on the coasts of Java and Sumatra. Blast waves cracked walls and broke windows up to 160 km. away. Tidal waves, reportedly up to 36 metres high, inundated the shores of the Sunda Strait, destroying nearly 300 towns and villages, and overnight more than 35,000 people lost their lives."
- J. V. Luce, "The Changing Face of the Thera Problem"

"Krakatoa erupted noisily. It could be heard as much as 3,000 miles away on Rodrigues Island in the Indian Ocean. Vibrations shattered shop windows 80 miles off. The energy; released in the main explosion has been estimated to be equivalent to an explosion of 150 megatons of TNT."

"Ships navigating the seas in the vicinity of Krakatoa reported that floating pumice in some places had formed a layer about 3 m thick. Other shops, 160 miles off, reported that they were covered with dust three days after the end of the eruption. In fact the dust cloud completely shrouded the area, so that it was dark even 257 miles away from the epicenter. The period of darkness lasted twenty-four hours in places 130 miles distant and fifty-seven hours 50 miles away. The black-out in the immediate vicinity continued for three days and was so total that not even lamp-light could penetrate it. Stunningly beautiful sunsets were observed during the winter months in both American and Europe, thanks to the suspension of fine particles of dust in the atmosphere."
- Christos G. Doumas Thera - Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean, p. 141

"Two titanic volcanic explosions occurred in the Mediterranean in the fifteenth century BC, one on Mount Vesuvius and the other on the island of Thera near Crete. Each dwarfed the great explosion of the Krakatoa volcano in 1883."
- Robert Jastrow, "Hero or Heretic?", Science Digest, Sep/Oct '80

According to current data, the last two great eruptions of Vesuvius occured in 3580 B.C.E and 79 C.E. (the latter being the eruption which buried Pompei and Herculaneum). Both Krakatoa and Thera have a Volcanic Explosivity Index or VEI of 6 which rates them as "colossal" with a plume height over 25 km and a displacement volume of between 10 and 100 ks km 3. Eruptions of this size occur only once every few hundred years on earth. Although the dating of pottery supports the fifteenth century time frame for the Thera eruption, dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating supported by historical records place it at 1628/7 B.C.E. .

"Descriptions of the Krakatoa explosion convey a sense of the horror that must have gripped the people who witnessed the earlier and more violent eruptions in the Mediterranean:

'A tremendous roar, heard over two thousand miles away'
'vibrations of the atmosphere circling the earth'
'ninety-foot waves breaking with devastating force'
'burning ashes raining down, blistering and killing people'."
- Robert Jastrow, "Hero or Heretic?", Science Digest, Sep/Oct '80

"Estimates of the volume of material displaced by the Thera eruption indicated an intensity five or six times as great as that of Krakatoa..."
- Dr. Floyd McCoy, in Ground Truth, Earthwatch Research Report

(2) A Great Flood Tide

"About 7 cubic miles (30 cubic km) of rhyodacite magma was erupted. The plinian column during the initial phase of the eruption was about >23 miles (36 km) high."
- "Santorini, Greece"

"The ejection of huge masses of material created an enormous chamber under the earth's crust, and eventually the roof of this magma chamber must have fractured and collapsed."
- Christos G. Doumas Thera - Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean, p. 137

"The caldera (or crater) created by this eruption of the the Stroggilí volcano on Thera (now known as Santorini) is said to have measured as much as 83 square kilometers in area. It presently extends down as much as 480 meters below sea level inside of the wall of cliffs which ring it and which themselves rise up as much as 300 meters above sea level.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica

"The sea poured into this enormous void through fractures in the ring of land, in the northwest and southwest of the island. If the chamber collapse was sudden, the flow of water must have generated tidal waves to the north and southwest."
- Christos G. Doumas Thera - Pompeii of the Ancient Aegean, p. 137-138

"Knossos [the Minoan capital] was shattered by a succession of earthquakes that preceded or accompanied the eruption, while great waves resulting from it appear to have damaged settlements along the northern coast of Crete."
- Encyclopaedia Britannica

"On the west cost of Turkey, just north of the island of Rhodes*, is a small body of water whose shoreline is like an ever-narrowing funnel. Its open mouth faces west, toward Thera, and anyone living behind that mouth might just as well have been a flea located in the throat of a cannon. As the shock wave surged east between increasingly confined shorelines, the waters piles higher and higher until at last they became a foaming white mountain eight hundred feet tall. The wave penetrated thirty miles inland, in the general direction of Mount Ararat; and when it receded, it dislodged house-sized boulders, scoured the soil and carved out channeled scablands. Elsewhere, on a strip of Turkish coast only ninety miles north of the funnel, the wave seems to have risen barely twenty feet high. Tsunamis are like that - capricious."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 87

* "Where local lore has it that a city called Cyrbe was 'swallowed up by a great flood-tide'."
Bronze Age Map

"There came a sound, as if from within the Earth
Zeus' hollow thunder boomed, awful to hear.
The horses lifted heads towards the sky
And pricked their ears; while strange fear fell on us,
Whence came the voice. To the sea-beaten shore
We looked, and saw a monstrous wave that soared
Into the sky, so lofty that my eyes
Were robbed of seeing the Scironian cliffs.
It hid the isthmus and Asclepius' rock.
Then seething up and bubbling all about
With foaming flood and breath from the deep sea,
Shoreward it came to where the chariot stood."
- Euripides, The Hippolytus

"According to the oral tradition handed to Euripides [who lived on the west Aegean between 480 and 405 B.C.], a wall of water heaved up from the deep, into a sky as clear as glass. This is precisely what one would expect if the poet had recorded the memory of Bronze Age Tsunamis in the western Aegean, which was spared the added calamity of Thera's death cloud."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 89

"Later Greek traditions, such as the story of Deucalion's flood, may enshrine a memory of similar waves that swept the coasts of the mainland at this time."
- Encyclopaedia Britannica

(3) Hell on Earth

After the eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902, "St. Pierre was a cityscape that made Dante's hell look shamefully mild. All the horrors hatching out - the blackened things, the charcoal people, the dead and the still-moving dead - all of these had required just ten thousand cubic yards of vaporized rock dusted less than half an inch deep over eight square miles of the city. Survivors' accounts of the Pelée death cloud provide only the slightest glimpse of how the eastern half of Crete must have suffered in the aftermath of Thera.
"Thera blew a thirty-cubic-mile hole in the earth. Thera was fifteen million times worse than Pelée."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) pp. 72-73

Stones from the Thera explosion have been found as far as the Black Sea.

"On easternmost Crete, more than seventy miles away from ground zero, the great palace of Zakros fell amid flames and ashy deposits. Stone slabs were slammed horizontally across the ground in a manner originally attributed to an earthquake, but all the stones seem to have toppled in the same direction as if pushed over by a great wind. Like Herculaneum, Zakros perished so quickly that people did not have time to flee with household objects. All the implements of Minoan life were left behind: gold rings, razors, tweezers and rare perfumes. At the same time, Phaistos, second in size only to Knossos, was utterly carbonized on the southeast coast."
"More than seventy miles east of Thera, directly in the path of the cloud, Southern Turkey and the islands of Kos, Rhodes and Cyprus received more than a foot of ash. In those places, the cloud, even if it had shed all of its heat (which it probably had not), would have suffocated almost everyone caught outdoors."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) pp. 62, 75

(4) Global Climatic and Economic Disruption

A huge cloud of dust and gas enveloped the earth, and there are accounts of unnusual darkness in Egyptian and Chinese literature.

"In the twenty-ninth year of King Chieh [the last ruler of Hsia, the earliest recorded Chinese dynasty], the Sun was dimmed...King Chieh lacked virtue...the Sun was distressed...during the last years of Chieh ice formed in [summer] mornings and frosts in the sixth month [July]. Heavy rainfall toppled temples and buildings...Heaven gave severe orders. The Sun and Moon were untimely. Hot and cold weather arrived in disorder. The five cereal crops withered and died."
- written during the reign of Emperor Qin c.1600 B.C.

"The death cloud deposited a dense ash layer hundreds of miles east of Thera, but penetrated west only sixty miles, stopping at the island of Melos. To halt the cloud at Melos, the headwinds from the west must have been very strong, and from the meteorologists came word that Westerly squalls were almost exclusively a September through November phenomenon on the Aegean, suggesting that the volcano exploded in autumn."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 233

"One could also envisage the destruction of the ships on which Minoan power depended, and the longer term disruption of agriculture by a heavy overlay of ash."
- Dr. Floyd McCoy, in Ground Truth, Earthwatch Research Report

As the dust cloud "circled the globe, the next spring must have been much like the spring of 1816, 'the year without a summer,' that followed the explosive reawakening of Tambora in Indonesia. There were no harvests in New England that year. Megatons of utrafine dust had been hoisted fifty miles high into the stratosphere, where it shaded out some of the sun's radiation, absorbing its heat long before it reached the ground. As June and August snowstorms swept across New York, few people could draw consolation from the strange beauty of a blood read moon, or from the most splendid sunsets the world had seen in more than thirty-four hundred years."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 77

"The cataclysmic eruption brought about the abrupt transition from the Minoan to the Mycenean culture-documented in various legends from the area-and perhaps even accounts for the stories of Atlantis and Exodus."
- Dr. Floyd McCoy, in Ground Truth, Earthwatch Research Report

For details on the archaeological record of the eruption, see:
Devastation of Crete.

An exploration of Plato's enduring myth can be found at:
Origins of Atlantis.

Hebrew and Egyptian Accounts?

(1) The Earth Melts

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth."
- Psalm 46:1-8

"The Lord, the LORD Almighty, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn-- the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt--he who builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the earth, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land-- the LORD is his name.
'Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites [that is, people from the upper Nile region]?" declares the LORD. "Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor [that is, Crete] and the Arameans from Kir?'"
- Amos 9:5-7

The eruption of Thera occured around 1450-1500 B.C.E. according to archaeological dating which is during the same time frame as the scriptural dating for the Exodus of Moses (1447 B.C.E.)
(Note that dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating, supports an ealier date, 1628/7 B.C.E., for the eruption.)

(2) "Fine Dust" and "Fire Mingled with Hail"

"Ash identified as coming from the [Thera] eruption has been found in coastal sites as far away as Israel and Sardis in Anatolia. The wind may have been blowing from the south or west."
- Encyclopaedia Britannica

"Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 'Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on men and animals throughout the land.' So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on men and animals."
- Exodus 9:8-10

The eruption of Thera was almost a thousand kilometers from the Nile delta - the land of Goshen - too distant to have suffered much damage from the accompanying earth tremors although, coincidentally, a severe earthquake and hail (falling volcanic stones?) did devastate the delta at the end of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom.

"...The fire ran along upon the ground....There was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous."
- Exodus 9:23-24

"Such things were witnessed as the Mount St. Helens cloud (in its Plinian phase) passed over Yakima, lancing down lightning and warm ash instead of rain..."
"...Recent excavations suggest that at least a quarter inch of dust fell out of the cloud as it rolled over Egypt. The dust was rich in sulfur, and some of it appears to have fallen as acid rain. Doubtless it blacked out the sun for several days..."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) pp. 80-81, 77

(For details on the Egyptian ash fall, click here.)

(3) Three Days of Darkness

"And then straightaway, as they moved swiftly over the great Cretian deep, night terrified them, the night which they call 'the pall of darkness'. No stars nor moonbeams pierced the deadly darkness. It was black chaos coming down from the sky, or some other darkness rising from the inmost recesses of the Earth. They did not in the least know whether they were voyaging on the water or in Hades."
- Apollonius of Rhode, Argonautica

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt--darkness that can be felt.'
So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days."
- Exodus 10:21-22

"The land was in great affliction. Evil fell on this earth....It was a great upheaval in the residence....Nobody left the palace during nine days, and during these nine days of upheaval there was such a tempest that neither the men nor the gods could see the faces of their next."
- Stone Shrine at el-Arish

The inscription dates from the Ptolemaic period but refers to a much earlier event (during the reign of a King Thom?). A papyrus from the Middle Kingdom also tells of a period of great destruction and darkness.

"The Sun is covered and does not shine to the sight of men. Life is no longer possible when the sun is concealed behind the clouds. Ra has turned his face from mankind. If only it would shine even for one hour! No one knows when it is midday. One's shadow is not discernible. The Sun in the heavens resembles the moon."
- "Admonitions of Ipuwer"

An alternative explanation is that the darkness was caused by a a hot southerly wind from the Sahara called a khamsin. Such winds can kick up fierce sand storms lasing to or three days - blowing massive drifts over small buildings, and obscuring the sun in a dark, yellow haze.

For remarkable parallels between the "Admonitions" and the Book of Exodus see:
The Plagues of Egypt.

(4) The Tsunami

"The low tidal wave across the sand would certainly make life difficult for charioteers or mounted soldiers, but wouldn't touch the 500-1000 people who had taken refuge on one of the low hills in the middle...Of course the volcanic ash in the sky would be very impressive in the morning and evening (red sky) and probably had some effect during the day (and night during moonlight) -- the great cloud going before them."
- Timothy C. Green

"The problem with this argument is that the tsunami would have arrived only minutes after the Theran ash cloud (if not before), and if the cloud is what darkened the skies, brought about famine and disease, and frightened the pharaoh into letting Moses and his people go, there was simply not enough time for pharaoh's intimidation, and them for the Hebrews to pack their belongings and travel tens of miles to the 'Reed Sea' to meet the tsunami. The Thera explosion either humbled the pharaoh with its ash or destroyed his chariots with its tsunami. One cannot have it both ways, unless the Exodus account is considered, like the Atlantis legend, a composite of more than one event whose original sequence was forgotten or misunderstood by the time it was committed to writing."
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 245

The Israelites, however, may have experienced effects of flooding from the tsunami similar to those described in the following passage:

"This is what the LORD says: 'See how the waters are rising in the north; they will become an overflowing torrent. They will overflow the land and everything in it, the towns and those who live in them. The people will cry out; all who dwell in the land will wail at the sound of the hoofs of galloping steeds, at the noise of enemy chariots and the rumble of their wheels. Fathers will not turn to help their children; their hands will hang limp. For the day has come to destroy all the Philistines and to cut off all survivors who could help Tyre and Sidon. The LORD is about to destroy the Philistines, the remnant from the coasts of Caphtor [that is, Crete]."
- Jeremiah 47:2-4

According to David Rohl, a catastrophe in the Nile Delta was the prelude to the invasion of the Hyksos and fall of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom. He also writes that this event initiated the flight of the Israelites led by Moses.

(5) A "Pillar of Cloud" and a "Pillar of Fire"

"...By day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light."
- Exodus 13:21

"The pillar of fire, said to have led the Israelites during their nocturnal peregrinations in the desert, has long troubled all but the most pious of scholars: 'Of all the mysterious phenomena which accompanied the Exodus, this mysterious Pillar seems the first to demand explanation' [W. Pythian-Adams]. The account in Exodus 13, so difficult to reconcile with what we know about the facts of 'history', is in perfect accord with the facts of comparative mythology, where the World Pillar forms a universal motive. Indeed, in many traditions the World Pillar is expressly described as a pillar of fire."
- Efemeral Research Foundation, "Exploring the Saturn Myth"

The Egyptian word Keftiu, likely derived from a root meaning 'pillar', is generally accepted as referring to Crete. Was the pillar described in Exodus merely a myth? Compare the following lines describing the eruption of Etna:

"By day a burning steam of smoke; but by night a ruddy eddying flame."
- Pindar, Odes Pythia, I, 22-24

The eruption of Thera so distant from the Nile delta, however, that the Israelites would not have seen anything so striking as a pillar of fire, especially after the ash cloud darkened the sky. If the pillar of smoke and fire refers to a volcanic event it must have been much closer at hand.

Conventional dating places the eruption of Thera during the early 18th Dynasty (1539-1425 BC) and the Exodus during the reign of Ramesses II (or, less probably, that of his successor Merneptah). Placing the Exodus during this period, however, is not supported by archaeological findings in Egypt and Israel.
179 years before Ramesses II took the throne, "in the year 22" of the reign of Thutmose III (ca. 1504 to 1450 B.C.E.), numerous fire circles were sighted and "fishes and volatiles fell down from the sky", phenomena which may have been associated with a large volcanic event. In addition, pumice from the eruption of Thera, has been identified within a stratified context at Tell ed-Daba (Ezbet Helmi) which spans the period from Ahmose to Thutmose III.
Unambiguous dating from bristle cone pines, however, places the Thera eruption at 1628/7 B.C.E., throwing the dates of the Egyptian rulers into serious doubt.

For evidence dating the Exodus to the Second Intermediate Period, see:
In the Land of Goshen.

"After the Exodus, there arose among the Hebrews a historic tradition of associating God with a fiery cloud. It is possible that the tradition survives as a distorted and poorly understood memory of Theran ash storms. In the Book of Numbers, the Lost Ark of the Covenant...was often overshadowed by God's cloud, which struck out and consumed enemies, and on occasion even set part of the Hebrew camp afire: "
- Charles Pellegrino, Unearthing Atlantis (1991) p. 81

"On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. "
- Numbers 9:15-17