southern aegean sea

Around 2,000 BC, the city of Akrotiri – built upon an island now known as Santorini, in the southern Aegean Sea – was a bustling sea port. They had multi-story dwellings, their interiors covered in elaborate frescoes, paved roads, advanced metalworking, indoor running water, and flush-toilets. We’d suspect that the natives of Akrotiri were time travelers, if not for the fact that they built their highly advanced settlement right beneath the most destructive volcano the world has seen in the last 10,000 years.

In 17th-century BC, a magnitude 7 earthquake reduced the town to rubble, then smacked the ruins with a few 30-foot tidal waves for good measure. There’s archaeological evidence that the survivors had begun cleaning up and rebuilding… when the island’s volcano, Thera, erupted.

The eruption was four to five times more powerful than Krakatoa, releasing hundreds of atomic bombs worth of energy in less than one second. When the dust finally settled, it perfectly preserved the ruins of the city for modern-day archaeologists to gawk at.

If widespread theories are correct, then Thera may have been Plato’s inspiration for the Atlantis myth – a destroyed island, a lost, highly advanced civilization – but, if anything, the myth downplays the reality. It didn’t just sink beneath the sea, it took a killer three-hit combo from nature, all but simultaneously crumbling, drowning, and exploding. 

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