Ancient Apocalypse: The Minoans

Ratings: 8.13/10 from 30 users.


Ancient Apocalypse: The MinoansThree and a half thousand years ago, the tiny Aegean island of Thera was devastated by one of the worst natural disasters since the Ice Age - a huge volcanic eruption.

This cataclysm happened 100km from the island of Crete, the home of the thriving Minoan civilization. Fifty years after the eruption, that civilization was in ruins. Did the volcano deliver a death blow to the Minoans? It's a whodunnit that has haunted historians and scientists for decades.

The lost world of the Minoans has intrigued people for thousands of years. Their palace at Knossos was vast and elaborate, with Europe's first paved roads and running water. The ancient Greeks wove its magnificence into their myths; it was the home of King Minos and his man-eating bull, the Minotaur, which roamed the palace labyrinth.

In the 1900s, British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans excavated and restored the ruins at Knossos. Beautiful and delicate frescoes of bulls and dolphins revealed a highly artistic civilization and a people who apparently lived in harmony with nature.

Early 20th-century archaeologists knew of the devastating volcano and some concluded it must have snuffed out the Minoan civilization almost instantly. But was it really as simple as that?

For a start, they discovered little ash had fallen on Crete - as luck would have it, the prevailing winds took the volcano's ash in the opposite direction. Then archaeologists found clay tablets that proved the Minoan civilization survived for about 50 years after the eruption. So if the volcano killed the civilization, what accounted for this long gap?

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25 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Waldo

    Pretty good documentary, especially if you are interested in this particular civilization or the eruption that may have ended it. Something they said confuses me tough, they said that the people could not have all evacuated because there was like two or three thousand of them and that would take a huge fleet of boats. But then they talk about these same people having a huge navy that protected them from invasion for centuries at a time. Is it not possible that this huge navy is exactly the fleet of boats they used to get off the island? They say finally that they think they all died at the harbor waiting for boats to to take them to safety, but they have not found the remains of a single person. Could the pyroclastic flow have been hot enough and reached far enough to have disintegrated all remains of these people?

  2. Tom


    I see you on here a lot and you may have watched it already but check out Atlantis: The Evidence. It deals with the Thera eruption as well. The blast was massive from the research geologist have been conducting in that area. They give some comparison figures between the Thera eruption and Mt Vesuvius eruption, as far as scale and material displaced. I can't remember exact figures but the Thera eruption was something like 8-10 times larger than Mt Vesuvius. I just remember thinking "wow, that was a big eruption". Perhaps the Minoians did make it onto the ships but the boats didn't make it to land and sank as a result of ash and pumice fall. Its just a theory though, maybe they should check out the ocean floor. Until someone comes up with a way to time travel we may never know.

  3. QueenBee

    I saw this documentary when it aired a few years ago; very interesting to see it again.

    @Waldo: The island of Thera, where the eruption took place, was a small, over-populated island, important as a trading center but not the Minoans' main island of Crete where the huge navy would have been centered.

    We humans aren't great at planning for disaster--after all, the builders of the Titanic didn't even put enough lifeboats on it and we know what happened there; on that island 3,500 years ago, there probably were never enough boats in port at any one time to evacuate its entire population.

    The bodies that were "never found" were never found *in the town* they were exacavating. The people presumably left the town when the ash started falling and may have gathered on the shore as they did at Herculaneum in Italy.

    Since they were still on the island with the erupting volcano, they could have been killed in a number of ways by the event, including falling pumice and ash, the tsunami, or the pyroclastic flow you mentioned.

    It wasn't clear whether the lack of evidence is due to the bodies being disintegrated or washed out to sea, or just that no one has looked for them.

    The tsunami specialist even explained that tsunamis destroy just about any boat in their path and that they never find boats after tsunamis hit. The only boats that do survive are already pretty far out at sea; not much use to the people on land.

    Its pretty sad that such a creative, vibrant civilization died out like that; I visited the palace at Knossos and it was marvelous to see the indoor plumbing and the stunning frescoes. This was a long time ago; a lot more work has been done at Knossos since I was there, but I have read that the frescos are deteriorating. I feel very lucky to have seen them when I did.

  4. Waldo

    @ Tom

    Thanks, no I haven't watched hat one yet. I have never been that interested in the whole Atlantis thing. But, I am very interested in everything volcanoe. I'll check it out.

  5. james

    I'd also expect some evidence of human remains as at Herculaneum or Pompeii,encased in ash.However, the tremendous destructive power of a pyroclastic blast and the powerful Tsunami may explain the remains blasted or swept out to sea,and not neccesarily is almost impossible for us to even imagine a natural cataclysm of this power.

  6. Tom


    The Atlantis doc isn't really about the fabled Atlantis of myth but looks at how Plato probably used certain events and places he visited and read about to write the story of Atlantis.


    I have to agree, an eruption on the scale that geologists believe the Thera eruption was on would be unimaginable. Maybe if Yellowstone erupts in my life time I could see something on that scale. Though, I live in Arizona and the estimations of how powerful it would be means I would not survive long enough to comprehend it anyway.

  7. Waldo

    @ Asad

    The theory in this documentary does not claim that the eruption ended the civilization. It claims that it shook the peoples trust in their established religion and societal norms to the point that it weakened the civilization enough to bring about its end. It also claims the culture was strongly connected to Crete and since Crete was ravaged by a massive sunami, connected to the eruption, this also may have contributed to the down fall of the Minoans. After all Thera's claim to fame and fortune was that it was a hub for the vast trading hub operated out of Crete. I would imagine an eruption of this size would have shut down the economy of the whole region for quite some time.

    This is explained in the text above the doc were they say: "...archaeologists found clay tablets that proved the Minoan civilization survived for about 50 years after the eruption. So if the volcano killed the civilization, what accounted for this long gap?"

    @ Tom

    Just finished the doc you recommended, excellent. That is the only explanation of Atlantis I have ever heard that was based on more than hunches and psuedo scientific reasoning. I am sold, if Plato was talking about a real place it makes perfect sense that Thera was it. This doc and the one you recommended are pratically the same documentary, the other one just adds that Thera may have been the source for the Atlantis myth. The even use alot of the same footage, and interview the same people.


    I visited the volcano last year. It admits Vapors from its pores and ones shoes can feel the warmth reviving from underground. According to the guide, the residents feel a deep attachment to the volcano. They showed us how Theta was connected then after the eruption, how the island spit. She told us that the volcano was so powerful it changed the temperature of the world by one degree. I am not stating what she said as a fact.

  9. Pongo101

    Only a 3 meter tsunami on Crete 100 km was the result from the explosion of a supervulcano?! This is the part which I find unbelievable. Since this documentary was made we have learnt quite a lot of the power of tsunamis and the possible height of tsunami waves.

    The climate change that followed for several years after appears credible. It would have accentuated the catastrophe (compare to e.g. Krakatoa).

  10. Khurshid Anwer

    The work of these scientists and the production team is as remarkable as interesting, blessed are those who have the knowledge and use it for collective benefit, wonderful, exciting and exceedingly well presented for making all of us knowledgeable. thanks a lot.

  11. L0LAW0NKA

    It's funny how even societies then thought they knew everything about the world. Nature can't be controlled. We should be thankful that we aren't constantly exposed to volcanoes, tsunamies and drastic weather changes. Yes, they happen but it seems the Earth does it every so often to stabilize itself or herself.

  12. Smitty1991

    This is crazy, great video. I'm calling it right now everyone so listen up!

    I don't know if its going to happen exactly when they say "2012" is going to happen. But I bet something very similar to this video will happen. I forget what the video is called that I watched but apparently there is this volcano in Europe that is about ready to erupt. I don't think 2012 is going to end human civilization but it is definitely going to impact our society in a great way.

  13. susa che

    Any documentaries about Ancient Dravidians

  14. susa che

    The Ancient Dravidians and the Akkadians..established the Mayan civilizations..Are there any documentaries about this..
    The ancient Dravidians were amazing mariners more than a thousand years ago..even travelling to australia ,then...
    The Dravidian history seems to be hidden in the far.
    Hopefully that will change..
    Nebuchadnezzar is an old Dravidian /Tamil as well as a biblical name...There is much to be discovered about this group of people...The Dravidian culture is the most influential in Asia..(One example - Zen is a Tamil monk...)
    But because the Tamils/Dravidians are grouped with the indigenous people of India..confusion arises....
    The Mergargh civilization -Dravidian- is as old as Egypt but bigger..!

  15. Eniki520

    You seam not to know that Maya Civilization dates to at least 2600 BC.

  16. Bored With Your Mediocrity...

    So, uhh... it is now 2013. We can all come out of our underground bunkers, now... Smitty was wrong.

  17. dewflirt

    Unless we all woke up dead and this is the afterlife :/

  18. Pysmythe

    Fukushima, a disaster waiting to happen! Yellowstone super volcano, OVERDUE! A disaster waiting to happen!! 800 near-earth asteroids, only a fraction!!! Superbugs! PLAGUE!! Antichrist!! Wrap-chair!!! AAAAAGGGHH!!!!!
    *falls over and ejaculates*

  19. dewflirt

    You forgot alien invasion, looks like you might have been a bit premature there Mr P ;)

  20. Pysmythe

    It wasn't me, it's what they get off on, and they're saving it for next time. And I should have said "has orgasm" in order to cover both sexes!

  21. Toy Pupanbai

    I looked at the BBC Minoan Civilisation, but this doc. has given me what I wanted.

  22. Dennis A. Dispenza

    I can remember a lifetime in Minoan Crete several thousand years ago, this is as per reincarnation study. There is much archaeological data on early civilizations that can be obtained from the study of reincarnation it would be very valuable in Archaeological research. It would be interesting to hear comments from others who can remember their experiences in earlier civilizations.

  23. Dennis A. Dispenza

    Do you know any thing of the Indus Valley Civilization of several thousand years ago? I seem to remember a lifetime living as a cotton textile seller in one of the IVC cities, as Harappa(or ?). We had a small textile shop between two of the city walls. We had a small farm outside the city, with a domed stucco farm house there. Do you know or remember any of your earlier lifetimes? These earlier lifetime, reincarnation memories could be a useful device for retrieving Archaeological data and unknown information. I can remember living in Minoan Crete, and some of the people I've known in this lifetime were people I knew thousands of years ago, in earlier civilizations.

  24. Dennis A. Dispenza

    The Minoans were NOT Atlantis: They were only a colony of Atlantis, the Minoans were descendants of the Red Race Atlantis people. Atlantis was in the Central Atlantic Ocean, it was destroyed ten to twenty thousand years ago. I know this, partly because I remember earlier lifetimes in both the real Atlantis, and it's colonies in Crete, Italy, Egypt and many other places. People who were in Atlantis, other places over the last tens of thousands of years would know this. It is a matter of studying your earlier lifetimes.

  25. The Lady We'll Call Dee

    Yes, we get it, you were there when it all happened. Take your meds.

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