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'Atlantis' killer volcano gouged deep trench into Mediterranean Sea

When a volcano erupted in 1650BC, it blasted a city to oblivion - sparking the myth of Atlantis. New evidence shows how it also unleashed tsunamis across the Mediterranean. Excavation work on the island of Santorini (also known as Akrotiri) in the 1960s found traces of an extensive settlement of Minoans, an ancient civilisation based on the island of Crete.
One of the murals uncovered on its ash-preserved walls included a map - with what appears to have been a large palace situated upon a small island encircled by the cliffs of Santorini itself.

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DNA reveals origin of Greece's ancient Minoan culture

Europe's first advanced civilisation was local in origin and not imported from elsewhere, a study says.
Analysis of DNA from ancient remains on the Greek island of Crete suggests the Minoans were indigenous Europeans, shedding new light on a debate over the provenance of this ancient culture.

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Minoan civilization was made in Europe

The Minoans descended from Neolithic populations that migrated to Europe from the Middle East and Turkey. Archaeological excavations suggest that early farmers were living in Crete by around 9,000 years ago, so these could be the ancestors of the Minoans. Similarities between Minoan and Egyptian artefacts were probably the result of cultural exchanges across the navigable Mediterranean Sea, rather than wholesale migrations.
Wolfgang Haak, a molecular archaeologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia, thinks that Crete's early history is probably more complicated, with multiple Neolithic populations arriving at different times.

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The Minoans

Thu, 7 Jul 11

Duration: 43 mins

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the ancient civilisation of the Minoans. The Minoans flourished for around two thousand years, long before Ancient Greek civilisation had begun. The most famous Minoan site is the Palace of Knossos on Crete which was famously excavated by Arthur Evans in 1900 and controversially reconstructed by him. But what do we really know about the Minoans and why did they eventually disappear? Melvyn is joined by John Bennet, Professor of Aegean Archaeology at Sheffield University; Ellen Adams, Lecturer in Classical Art & Archaeology at Kings College London; and Yannis Hamilakis, Professor of Archaeology at the University of Southampton.

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Giant 'balloon of magma' inflates under Santorini

The chamber of molten rock beneath Santorini's volcano expanded 10-20 million cubic metres - up to 15 times the size of London's Olympic Stadium - between January 2011 and April 2012, according to a new survey carried out by an international team led by Oxford University and including a scientist from the University of Bristol. The research is reported in this week's Nature Geoscience.
The growth of this 'balloon' of magma has seen the surface of the island rise 8-14 centimetres during this period, the researchers found. The results come from an expedition, funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council, which used satellite radar images and Global Positioning System receivers (GPS) that can detect movements of the Earth's surface of just a few millimetres.

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 Nea Kameni volcano movement captured by Envisat

Archived data from the Envisat satellite show that the volcanic island of Santorini has recently displayed signs of unrest. Even after the end of its mission, Envisat information continues to be exploited for the long-term monitoring of volcanoes.
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BBC One is to tell the dramatic story of the greatest natural disaster to shake the ancient world, a disaster that triggered the downfall of a civilisation and spawned a legend.

'Atlantis - End of a World, Birth of a Legend' was shot almost entirely in a virtual backlot, i.e. in a studio set against green screen, with physical set builds in the foreground and background sets created in CG.
This approach allowed the production to achieve a unique visual style similar to the movie '300'.
The programme, which will air on BBC1, is a co-production with Discovery, BBC Worldwide, Pro Sieben (Germany) and France Deux (France).

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Last year, Bettany Hughes at The Daily Mail theorised that Plato may actually have been writing a "moral fable" based on the island of Thera - modern-day Santorini, Greece - when he described Atlantis. Like the fabled lost city, Thera endured a horrific disaster (in its case, a cataclysmic volcanic eruption) that brought an end to its sophisticated civilization in a matter of days. Vulcanologists and archaeologists are unearthing evidence of a "Pompeii"-like civilization under the current-day vacation spot.
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Santorini: Cliffs, beaches and the sapphire sea

The afternoon crowd flowed down among the shops, cafes and picture-postcard lookouts on the Greek island of Santorini, speaking at least a half-dozen languages.
It spread along the clifftop village of Oia's cobblestone walkways, drifting into storefronts or up the stairs to open-air restaurants, eddying to photograph scenes of white buildings with blue doors and blue-domed churches.
The crowd thinned to little more than a trickle down the 214 broad steps to Ammoudi Bay. There, seaside tavernas grilled the day's catch of fish and octopus. People lingered at outdoor tables, while a dozen small pleasure and fishing boats rocked gently on the Aegean. A cliffside pathway wound beyond to a cove, where you could lie in the sunshine amid the black volcanic rocks and swim in the sapphire sea.

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In this Timewatch special, historian Bettany Hughes unravels one of the most intriguing mysteries of all time. She presents a series of geological, archaeological and historical clues to show that the legend of Atlantis was inspired by a real historical event - the greatest natural disaster of the ancient world.

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