BAR 17:01, Jan/Feb 1991
High Art from the Time of Abraham
Was this the lost continent of Atlantis? Did a volcano part the Red Sea?
BAR readers may well wonder what a small volcanic islandnow a cluster of islandsin the Aegean Sea has to do with Biblical archaeology.
The answer is threefold. Most important, this article is about a high civilization that was destroyed about 1500 B.C. (or 1628 B.C., according to a recent datingsee the sidebar Thera and the ExodusWhen Was the Island Destroyed? This dates it at least 300 years before Israel emerged as a people in the rustic highlands of Canaan, perhaps at a time when Israels patriarchal forebears were living as seminomads and certainly before the time of the Exodus and the Judges. To appreciate fully the ancient culture out of which Israel emerged, we must understand, even if by contrast, the contemporaneous world of the mid-second millennium. Thera, to use the Greek name of this Aegean island (today it is also called Santorini, a name given to it by the Venetians), was part of that worldreflecting a little-known but elevated culture that had maritime and trading contacts with much of the then-known world, especially to the east.