All That Rubble Leads to Trouble: Reassessing the Seismological Value of Archaeological Destruction Layers in Minoan Crete and Beyond
Simon Jusseret & Manuel Sintubin Seismological Research Letters 83:4 (July/August 2012): 736-742.
From the introduction
Since its discovery in the beginning of the twentieth century by British archaeologist Arthur Evans, the Bronze Age (Minoan) civilization of Crete (Greece, ca. 3000–1200 B.C.) received considerable scholarly, scientific, and popular attention. Although subject to critique and revision, Evans’s ideas and hypotheses about Minoan society remain remarkably central to modern archaeological research on the island. The recognition of the disruptive effects of earthquakes on Minoan society represents one of Evans’s enduring legacies. Earthquakes have been considered as responsible for the successive destructions of the palace of Knossos and as convenient time markers for Minoan archaeological periods. Nowadays, they are often seen by Minoan archaeologists as an unattractive explanatory concept, at least when divorced from their wider social, political, and economic contexts. Fear of catastrophism, undesirable use of deus ex machina phenomena, and resistance to Occam’s razor (lex parsimoniae) as a heuristic guide to archaeological explanation partly account for this situation.