Knossos Throne by
The cataclysmic eruption of
the volcano of Thera, some 60 miles (100 km)
north of Crete, must have seriously disrupted
the tranquility of Minoan
eruption took place while the Late Minoan IA
style still flourished—about 1500 B.C. The
extraordinarily rich settlement on Thera itself
seems to have been abandoned at the first signs
of volcanic activity, and probably the initial
loss of life was relatively small.
However, the eruption would have generated a
devastating tsunami, or sea wave, and harbors
on the north coast of Crete and any shipping in
them must have suffered
The fallout of ash downwind from the cloud,
which was projected into the upper atmosphere, must have been poisonous to
vegetation.Oceanographic research has indicated that the wind was northwesterly, so
that central and eastern Crete, together with Rhodes, would have suffered
However, attempts to attribute the Minoan
collapse solely to this cause encounter the difficulty that the main destructions
in Crete fall at the end of Late Minoan IB, or about 50 years later. Possibly the
natural disasters so weakened the Minoan kingdoms that they were unable to resist
an invasion of Greeks from the mainland.
B.C. the palace of Knossos, which alone of the great palaces still survived, was
destroyed by fire. Subsequently, Crete would seem to have split up into
small independent units.
least some of these seem to have remained under
Greek rule, for jars bearing Linear B
inscriptions found on the mainland have been
shown to be of Cretan origin.
final decline of the Minoan civilization
occurred about the 12th century B.C.
later Greeks retained no accurate information
believed that King Minos of Knossos had been
the first man to found an empire on sea power,
and great technical achievements were
associated with the name of his engineer,
The Labyrinth that he was supposed to have
built at Knossos to contain the Minotaur, a fabulous monster half man and half
bull, remained the emblem of the classical Greek Knossos and appears on its
coinage. Some scholars have thought that the Labyrinth is a confused recollection
of the complexity of the Minoan palace plan.