Minoans and Mycenaeans

Minoans and Mycenaeans | Mediterranean Europe | Greece | 1,700-1,200 BCE (Bronze Age)

When the Greek island of Thera blew up one summer’s day in or around 1646 BCE, it is believed to have been the largest, most violent volcanic eruption ever witnessed by humans in the historical era. With the force of forty atomic bombs, the explosion appears to have vaporized the interior of the island, killed 20,000 people and thrown a layer of ash and pumice over the luxury villas on the hill measuring 130 feet deep today. Researchers note that Chinese annals recorded the event on the other side of the world, and tree rings as far away as California and Ireland registered the effect. It snuffed out Minoan civilization, Europe’s first, and gave rise to the story of Atlantis, as told to Pericles by Egyptian priests and repeated by Plato, the destruction of a powerful maritime state in “one dreadful day and one dreadful night.”

After the downfall of the Minoans in the mid-second millennium, it was left to the Mycenaeans, allies from mainland Greece, to pick up the pieces. Many of King Minos’ merchantmen must have been far off at sea and escaped harm. The Mycenaeans ruled in the Minoans’ stead until the Trojan War, when a second world catastrophe struck about the year 1100, followed by five centuries marked by the Doric and Ionic invasions and known as the Greek Dark Ages.

The five ancient “Atlantis survivors,” as they could be dubbed, were recovered from four different sites in present-day Greece, one from near Athens, one from the Peloponnese and the other three from Crete. A female’s grave was used from Agia Kyriaki on the island of Salamis west of Athens. A second female came from an elite Mycenaean tomb in Peristeria on the Peloponnese. A male and a female were recovered from the rock-cut tombs of Galatas Apatheia, near Chania, on the northwest coast of Crete.

Three out of four of the individuals in this test are women, and three out of four samples of mitochondrial DNA belonged to haplogroup X. This lineage is centered in the East Mediterranean but diffused sparsely all over the world, including in America. Many people consider X to be the signature of the Phoenicians, who followed in the sea paths of the Minoans and Mycenaeans. One individual belonged to mitochondrial haplogroup H. The only male in the group carried Y-chromosomal haplogroup J2a1.

Code: MAM-11

Ancient DNA Hub Reference: Ayia Kyriaki, Armenoi, Galatas

Story ID: 10350

Contributing ancient genomes: 5 (Akhilleus, Ariadnh, Callisto, Karpathia, Poulxeria)

You may be interested in these present-day populations available in the DNA Fingerprint Plus:

Greece (n =208)

Greek – Northern (n=318)

Greek (n=143)

Greek (n=205)

Greek Cypriot (n=1475)

You may be interested in the following potential match from the Rare Genes from History test:


You may also be interested in the following test:

Cretan Mother Goddess Worshipers

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