The sun bathed the virulent green seas off the Minoan coastal town of Amnisus in a strange light as Duripi stared out into its vastness. As she stood holding tiny Kikeru in her arms, the trembling beneath her feet gripped her. And on the horizon she watched with growing apprehension, Poseidon’s glassy realm transfigured. Twelve miles out, a one hundred foot sea swell rushed toward shore. How could the curious mother have known, this morning would signal Minoan end times?
In an instant, the racing tsunami erased everything they knew, those citizens of ancient Amnisus, on the shores of Keftiu, modern-day Crete. Earthquakes rattled and shook apart mighty palaces and villas. Ash clouds darkened the skies for months. And like a boulder cast into a garden pond, the biggest volcano in the world exploded rhythmic tsunamis toward the unshakable Minoans’ homeland. When the first wave struck, it washed ashore the mightiest fleet the world had ever known. Two thousand ships were dashed to splinters or sunk. Priestess queens, mothers, potters, farmers, and shopkeepers met their fate all at once.
And then the gigantic wave receded, carrying the whole world back into the sea. Only Poseidon was not done. The first tsunami fed a second mighty surge, adding to its crushing might. Now a one-hundred fifty-foot wave innundated half a mile inland, ending with dreamy finality two thousand years of building and culture. For hours, the quivering echo of the god’s voice washed clean what some call Atlantis. I saw all this in a waking dream, in the sand beneath the ruins of the Villa of the Lillies at Amnisos Beach. I did not need the science to see, a great society mixed in a cauldron of churning water, like tiny shrimps in the soup of an omnipotent god.
The Minoans. I’ve now read five hundred papers by the world’s most learned men and women, reweaving the tapestry of humanity’s paramount moment. At Villa Ariadne on the grounds of Knossos Palace, the brilliant curator Dr. Kostis Christakis studies administers, orchestrates, and records the work of dozens of archaeologists studying every granule of evidence about the Minoan end times. His published works shine pinpoints of light onto humanity’s most fascinating riddle.
At Sissi, fabulous Itanos, onshore at Palaikastro in the far east, and across Crete, the Director of the Belgian School at Athens, Dr. Jan Driessen absorbs the morsels of facts of Minoan civilization like an unstoppable Achilles of historic truth. The amazing Dr. George Rethemiotakis who discovered the lost Galatas Palace, well, he still digs and studies and educates us all, even though he’s retired. At mysterious Monastiraki in the Amari Valley, another palace surrounded by myth and puzzlement is slowly being revealed by the dedicated and distinguished Dr. Athanasia Kanta, of the British School. Their fantastic work, the work of countless other scientists goes on, as it must. For rebuilding the physical world of our legacy is a priceless necessity.
For me, however, the ethereal impact those lost souls left leaves me with a mission only to prove what I know. It might also behoove us to pay more attention to the work at Priniatikos Pyrgos, outside Agios Nikolaos, where fluvial actions (soup mixing) may be evidence of a civilization altering event from Poseidon himself. At least, the findings there indicate Dr. Driessen’s ideas to put geologists and volcanologists on the case is a necessary next step. In my normative way, being a geographer and all through Google Earth, it’s easy to imagine Crete’s landscape drastically reworked by wave inundation.
My dear friend Anna Bastakis has recreated, from a childhood dream, a cultural journey into the soul of the Minoan land. Her Minoan Theater (Instagram below) is an ongoing cultural journey that delivers the theater’s guests an unequaled experience. Anna’s grandfather, and her father, they were instrumental in the discoveries made by Knossos’ discoverer Minos Kalokairinos, and later the famous Sir Arthur Evans. Anna’s work goes on, and it’s with great pride that I try and assist. For the world sorely needs a reconnect to its shining past. And elsewhere, here on Crete, amazing people cling for dear life to the traditions passed down for generations. So, before their grip on the legacy of the Minoans is further loosened, it’s necessary to reveal more than just hard science. At least, this is my conviction.
There’s a tiny shard of pottery on my desk as I type this. It’s one of a million I stood looking at in the Tsunami inundation soup beneath the Villa of the Lilies the other day. As scientists study the still scant archaeological evidence of the Thera tsunami event that probably caused the Minoan end times, some forget or fail to acknowledge the overall destructive and erosive effects such a monstrous event would have on coastlines. And there’s also the constructive nature of such catastrophes, where tsunamis left deposits along Crete’s shores. One close look at satellite imagery of Amnissos, or other sites, clues me to look more deeply into these “constructed” coastlines.
My “soup” theory may be sloppy, but what it would take a better form if somebody digs up a ship’s cargo 400 meters inland. Speculation as it is, I cannot help but imagine the Myceneans finally sailing to Keftiu, after generations feared their fleets would be destroyed at the hands of mighty Minoan sea captains. There is at least some evidence that the Minoans possessed shipbuilding technology that would have been otherworldly compared to other Bronze Age or even later Phoenecian capabilities. Her technological (god-given) superiority gone, the 90-city Minoan world of Homer, she surely awaited conquest.
Until our most learned experts uncover more, we are left to wonder still at the Minoan end times and the fate of my heroine Duripi. Did the society she was heir too just wither and die, as some suggest? Or, did a biblical catastrophe cause an upheaval that spelled the end? Science is supposed to encompass the entirety of proof, but it so often overlooks the strongest and least fathomable fact – the spirit that compels us to search in the first place. Curiosity. Wonder. Imagination. Perhaps we will finally see the Minoans, like Atlanteans, victims of a gigantic cataclysm we cannot even quantify. This is my sense. Now I have to try and prove my theory of Minoan end times. Not an easy task, but we’ll see.