Research ArticleENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

Annual radiocarbon record indicates 16th century BCE date for the Thera eruption

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Science Advances  15 Aug 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 8, eaar8241
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar8241

Abstract

The mid-second millennium BCE eruption of Thera (Santorini) offers a critically important marker horizon to synchronize archaeological chronologies of the Aegean, Egypt, and the Near East and to anchor paleoenvironmental records from ice cores, speleothems, and lake sediments. Precise and accurate dating for the event has been the subject of many decades of research. Using calendar-dated tree rings, we created an annual resolution radiocarbon time series 1700–1500 BCE to validate, improve, or more clearly define the limitations for radiocarbon calibration of materials from key eruption contexts. Results show an offset from the international radiocarbon calibration curve, which indicates a shift in the calibrated age range for Thera toward the 16th century BCE. This finding sheds new light on the long-running debate focused on a discrepancy between radiocarbon (late 17th–early 16th century BCE) and archaeological (mid 16th–early 15th century BCE) dating evidence for Thera.

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