Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Thera eruption rocks Egypt. Maybe.

"Egyptian archeologists say lava from ancient Greek volcano found"
"Egyptian archaeologists on Monday presented white stones
of pumice that they believe a tsunami in ancient times carried
850 kilometers (530 miles) across the Mediterranean to north
Sinai. The pumice was discharged by a volcanic eruption in the
ancient Greek island of Santorini in the 17th century B.C. Traces
of this solidified lava foam that floats have been found in Crete
and southwestern Turkey, but Egypt's archaeologists believe it
also reached this site in the Sinai desert, about 7 kilometers
(4 miles) south of the coast. (...)
Archaeologists (..) excavated this desert site northeast of Qantara
(..) [and] earlier this month, they uncovered the remains of
an 18th dynasty fort, which featured four rectangular towers
built of mud bricks."

This doesn't seem quite right. A tsunami wouldn't carry a bunch of junk halfway across the Med; a tsunami is only a few inches high in deep mid-ocean water and would therefore just move through any floating debris, not carry it along like a surfer. Not to say that it couldn't have been carried there due to normal currents though. But then how could it have gotten so far inland?

Here's a few more links showing the evolution of the story:

"Egypt says has evidence volcano destroyed cities"

A very different report:

"Ancient Egypt Cities Leveled by Massive Volcano, Ash Find Suggests"
"Egyptian archaeologists today announced that they have unearthed
traces of volcanic ash on the northern coast of Sinai that date to
around 1500 B.C.รข~@~T supporting accounts that a number of ancient
Egyptian settlements were buried by a massive volcanic eruption in
the Mediterranean. The archaeological team, led by Mohamed
Abdel Maqsoud of Egypt's SCA found houses, military structures,
and tombs encased in ash near the ancient Egyptian fortress of
Tharo, on the Horus military road (..) close to El Qantara. (..)
The archaeological mission also found a fort with four mud-brick
towers dating to Egypt's 18th dynasty (around 1550 to 1307 B.C.).
(...) Ikram added that the site also contains some of the earliest
known remains of horses found in Egypt. "

HT to Aayko at the EEF.