New evidence for an early date for the Aegean Late Bronze Age and thera eruption

Sturt W. Manning, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, Christos Doumas, Toula Marketou, Gerald Cadogan, Charlotte L. Pearson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The authors report on radiocarbon data derived from carefully selected organic material from Late Minoan IA and IB contexts. The results suggest that the accepted chronology of the period should be revised by 100 years and that the eruption of Thera/Santorini most likely occurred c. 1650-1620 BC. It has been stated that 14C dating could not contribute to Aegean Late Bronze Age chronology; the material culture linkages were thought to be more precise. However, the present study demonstrates the contrary. Quality 14C data require, and tightly define, a new chronology, and disprove the conventional assumptions and interpretations. By convention, the start date for LMIA was placed c. 1600/1580 BC, but we have found that a specific and probably narrow terminus post quem, and possibly even actual date, for early LMIA pre-dates at a minimum c. 1689/1680 BC, and in fact probably lies c. 1765-1716 BC; we have found that the mature-late parts of the phase lie in the 17th century BC, and not the 16th century BC; and we have found that the phase probably ends around c. 1610-1590 BC, and not c. 1480 BC as conventionally held. The eruption of the Thera volcano is best dated c. 1650-1620 BC, and not 1520-1500 BC. The conventional chronology must be revised by over 100 years. We have found that the end of the succeeding LMIB phase (as represented at two sides, one in northwest Crete, one in southeast Crete) probably lies c. 1522-1512 BC (1528-1503 BC total 10 range -assuming a 0-10-year gap between the Chania and Myrtos-Pyrgos destructions), and not c. 1425 BC as conventionally held. The new 'high' Aegean chronology (see further Manning 1999; Manning et al. 2001; in press) supported by our data has far-reaching implications: in particular, the LMIA Aegean world, a high point of Minoan civilization, would not be largely contemporary with and influenced by the Egyptian 18th Dynasty (the early New Kingdom), starting c. 1550/1540 BC, as long-held, but instead contemporary with the preceding and very different Hyksos period of Egypt, when northern Egypt was controlled by a Canaanite dynasty with links in the Levant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-744
Number of pages12
Issue number293
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Chronology
  • Late Bronze Age
  • Late Minoan
  • Radiocarbon
  • Thera

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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