Not much is left of the Santorini Islands, among Greece's prettiest tourist sites. They encircle a massive volcanic crater, where more than 3,500 years ago one of the largest eruptions in recorded history took place. The blast entombed an ancient town, Akrotiri, and seemingly altered the course of world history. And now the survey indicates that the eruption was even more powerful than once believed.
"The Minoan eruption of the Santorini volcano has remained of great interest to geologists, historians, and archeologists because of its possible impact on the Minoan civilization in Crete," notes the survey in the August 22 Eos journal. The Minoans were major players in the Eastern Mediterranean from roughly 3,000 B.C. to 1550 B.C, when the ancient Greeks, the same guys who went on to besiege Troy, took over. The late Greek archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos in 1939 proposed that the eruption, a scant 70 miles away from Crete, caused the end of the Minoan civilization.