Dating the volcanic eruption at thera
"If you can date precisely when that moment is, then whenever you find evidence of that moment at any archeological site, you suddenly have a very precise marker point in time—and that's really powerful for examining human/environmental interactions around that time period." Archeologists have estimated the eruption as occurring sometime between 15 BC by using human artifacts such as written records from Egypt and pottery retrieved from digs.Other researchers estimated the date of the eruption to about 1600 BC using measurements of radiocarbon, sometimes called carbon-14, from bits of trees, grains and legumes found just below the layer of volcanic ash.The legend of Atlantis and the story of the Biblical plagues and subsequent exodus from Egypt have also been connected to the epic catastrophe.
There are no first-person accounts of what happened that day, but scientists can compare it to the detailed records available from the famous eruption of Krakatoa, Indonesia, in 1883.
Charlotte Pearson and her team measured single tree rings of known age from low-altitude oak (pictured) and high-altitude bristlecone pine, and compared those measurements with the internationally agreed radiocarbon calibration curve.
Credit: © Peter Brewer Pearson learned about the Thera eruption while studying archeology in college and has been fascinated by the eruption and its aftermath ever since.
What fell out of that was that the old calibration curve wasn't precisely correct during this time frame." The paper, "Annual radiocarbon record indicates sixteenth century BC date for the Thera eruption," by Pearson and her colleagues is scheduled to publish online Aug. Her other UA co-authors are Peter Brewer, Timothy Jull, Todd Lange and Matthew Salzer.
Other co-authors are David Brown of Queen's University in Belfast, UK, and Timothy Heaton of University of Sheffield, UK."Our data indicate that radiocarbon dating can overlap with various lines of archeological evidence for the eruption date." The current radiocarbon calibration curve that was developed over the past 50 years using tree rings extends 14,000 years into the past.