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Fire in the Sea: The Santorini Volcano: Natural History and the Legend of Atlantis Hardcover – 11 May 2000

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (11 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521652901
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521652902
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 2.3 x 27.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 515,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Amazon Review

It used to be thought that, around 3,600 years ago, the flourishing Bronze Age (Minoan) civilisation and culture of the eastern Mediterranean was wiped out by the volcanic eruption of the island of Santorini. The eruption also became linked with the Old Testament story of the darkness that beset Egypt as one of the seven plagues and with Plato's description of the fabled island of Atlantis.

Walter Friedrich, the author of Fire in the Sea, is a German professor and geologist, now based in Denmark, who has researched and published many details of the Santorini eruption. In this superbly illustrated account for the general reader, he tells how around 1600 B.C., the Minoan inhabitants of Santorini witnessed their paradisal island home of Thera blow up in their faces.

Like a vigorously shaken giant champagne bottle, the Santorini volcano suddenly erupted, producing one of the largest explosions ever witnessed by humans. So much volcanic ash and pulverised rock was thrown into the atmosphere that it circulated the Earth for several years and changed global climates.

Amazingly, the Minoan civilisation was not wiped out. Detailed dating has shown that the eruption happened well before the Minoan civilisation declined. Friedrich sets the detailed story in the wider geological evolution of the whole region. As the continental plate of Africa pushes north, the whole of the eastern Mediterranean has become dangerously active. Today, tourists blithely sail into the bay of Thera, the 5km wide crater left by the eruption, before wandering around the still gently active volcano. It is anyone's guess when Santorini will next explode, but one thing is sure--it will. Fascinating reading, especially for those taking holidays in the Aegean!

Fire in the Sea, has a large format (A4), which helps do justice to the photos and diagrams. Appendices give a translation of Plato's dialogue concerning Atlantis, lists of fossils, references to research and other writings about Santorini and an index. --Douglas Palmer


'This book, with its clear text and superb illustrations, is a suitable geological complement to the lavishly illustrated publications of Santorini's archaeological remains. Those wishing to place those remains in a physical context will find it most rewarding.' John Bennet, The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Where the book really excels is that all facets seem to have been treated with comparable, if not equal, authority. The geology is dealt with thoroughly … Historical and archaeological evidence is thoroughlt integrated and the whole forms a coherent story … excellent photographs and clear diagrams … The science is clear and thorough but not condescending and the author conveys thorough knowledge and enthusiasm for the region … an excellent read for anyone contemplating a visit to any volcanic island and would be essential preparation for a visit to Santorini. It is the sort of book one would return to … excellent value.' Bulletin of the British Ecological Society

' … Santorini exploded in 1600 BC producing one of the largest explosions ever witnessed by humans. The story of why it blew - and the consequences - is superbly detailed and illustrated in Friedrich's book.' Douglas Palmer, Focus Magazine

'Fire in the Seas gives an excellent account of the archaeological and geological history of Santorini … [it] could be used in an introductory course of geology, but it is written for a far wider audience. Its lavish color photographs, drawings and computer graphics will have broad appeal. Anyone who is interested in earth science, history or archaeology will find an abundance of information about Santorini and about modern methods of geological and archaeological research.' Svend Erik Rasmussen, Geologisk Institut, Aarhus

'… a lavishly illustrated book about the volcanic explosion of the Greek island of Santorini … a painstaking account … The photographs and diagrams are truly enlightening … a genuine education in the enormous power of the Earth to shake up the landscape.' National Geographic 'Adventure'

'… a handsome book that tells a fascinating story.' Dr Richard A. F. Grieve, Episodes

'Fire in the Sea deals with all major aspects of the history of Santorini from the perspective of science and scholarship. … However, this is much more than a geology book … The book is beautifully produced and illustrated with outstanding colour diagrams and photographs, and is also well written, making it a very pleasing book to read and own. … Walter Friedrich's book is the broadest and most accessible contribution. It is beautifully illustrated, clearly written and I can strongly recommend it to both professional geologists and the wider world.' R. S. J. Sparks, Geological Magazine

'… a fascinating account of geological and historical aspects of this jewel of the Aegean, the island of Santorini.' Sigurour Steinpórsson, Jökull

'If you are looking for a book to add distinction to your coffee table, this one is a good choice … handsomely produced, beautifully laid out, lavishly illustrated with carefully chosen photographs … and crammed with information boxes, diagrams and tables.' History Now

'… arguably the best general scientific introduction to one of the most significant volcanic eruptions known, and would make an excellent companion for any geologist or archaeologist (amateur or professional) travelling to the beautiful Cycladic island itself.' Clive Oppenheimer, Earth-Science Reviews

' … a popular book that makes science accessible, and proves that true accounts can be better than fiction.' Journal of Hellenic Studies

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Inside This Book

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In recent centuries the Aegean volcanic islands of Santorini have repeatedly changed not only their appearance but their names as well. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this richly illustrated book. From geological then archeological perspectives, the enormous volcanic eruption of the 17th century BC which transformed this Aegean island group and practically wiped out the Minoan civilisation is studied with careful review of legends, historical texts, and prevailing theories concerning evidence that this explosion actually destroyed Atlantis. The author has clearly devoted many years to studying the geology of Santorini and his passion for the subject comes through on every page. Although the "main" eruption - an event with far-reaching impact (ash fallout, tidal waves) - is the starting point, the changes of the island group over the centuries are detailed as well. The proposition that ancient Thera was actually Atlantis is presented soberly; an added bonus is a translation of the Plato dialogues concerning Atlantis. The colourful contemporary photos of sunny Santorini showing dramatic cliffs and other geological formations even got us interested in visiting the island as tourists. Methodological yet easily readable, this fascinating book has something to interest anyone curious about ancient Mediterranean civilisations.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a rather scholarly read but exciting nonetheless. A must for anyone who has travelled to this amazingly beautiful Cycladic island. A panormic history of the unimaginably massive elemental forces that have created this mesmerising place. The book also looks at the effects the vulcanology has had on neighbouring islands and, indeed, on the entire eastern Mediterranean.
The authors also speculate on future volcanic activity and the implications of this for the very large tourist industry. It is well illustrated with photographs, diagrams and graphs.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9fc11b10) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f9867c8) out of 5 stars An approachable discourse on the subject 1 Aug. 2002
By Atheen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
It was truly an exciting experience which found me capering about loose scoria ridges looming over the still fuming caldera several feet about the beach; I felt quite daring, especially as I am extremely afraid of heights! I learned a lot that I had missed by dropping out of my degree program prior to going on my summer field camp. There were examples of debris flows, unconformities, erosional channels, wind formations, faulting, uplift of sea bed strata with fossiliferous deposits, all an education in themselves. I also learned that hours on end in the hot sun plotting individual grains of rock for size, shape, color, angularity, and inclination is not my cup of tea. It makes a great summer vacation for the enthusiastic amateur, but I couldn't imagine it as a permanent, full time job. I decided I had missed nothing by remaining a nurse, and looked forward to a publication of results that I could enjoy in the quiet of my own home!
Just such a report has since be published (2000). I had the great good fortune to discover Walter L. Friedrich's volume Fire in the Sea while browsing the various Amazon links from another book on geology. Although it's not an in depth geological or archaeological survey of the research on the island, it is an excellent compendium for the page length of what is known about it with respect to these two topics. Above all it is an approachable discourse on the tectonic history of Santorini, both ancient and modern. There are wonderful photos of the various vistas around the island-many of which I recognized from my own visit there--and several maps that show the development of the site through time. Reports of volcanism and earthquake activity through the ages are included from earlier authors that give an almost biographical character to the story of Santorini or ancient Thera, and there are several illustrations of Minoan art work that help recreate the character of the island prior to the eruption for which the volcano is most noted and often cited, that during Minoan times ca. 1700 BC. At the end of the book in Appendix 1, the author has included one of Plato's Dialogs discussing the ancient tale of Atlantis with which the island has been linked by a number of researchers.
I found the book to be an excellent discourse on the geology of the island but was a little disappointed in that there was so little about the archaeological site of Akrotiri, especially as geologists-including Dr. Floyd McCoy, with whom I worked and who is mentioned in the volume-have been very helpful in illuminating some of the events of the city's last moments. The excavation site is fascinating, as the structures are preserved in places up to second stories. The faulted stair case (p. 70) is included and is one of the most emotive sights in the devestated city, but a more thorough discussion of the site and what is believed to have occurred there during the eruption that ended its life is a very stirring tale, one that could have lent a greater sense of the moment to the reader. It would also illustrate how the activities of archaeology and geology are integrated to generate productive results. Although the author discusses in brief some of the concerns of the modern inhabitants of the island, I would also have enjoyed more photos of the modern towns in the area, since I suspect they are very like those that have existed on the island since antiquity. A discussion of their own history and likely future would have added a sense of continuity to the tale of Santorini
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f986918) out of 5 stars An outstanding, informative account for geology students. 5 Sept. 2000
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This in-depth survey of the Santorini volcano's natural history and its connections to the Atlantis legend will hold special appeal for students of volcanism and geology: Fire in the Sea is packed with color photos of the volcano, relics, excavations, and maps; and it includes in-depth discussions of volcanism in general. An outstanding, involving account for the dedicated student of geology.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9feb73a8) out of 5 stars Fascinating Fire in the Sea 21 July 2005
By Jacqueline Manley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Fire in the Sea: The Santorini Volcano: Natural History and the Legend of Atlantis" by Walter L. Friedrich is a uniquely fascinating scholarly natural history of the Greek island of Santorini, yet amazingly easy to read for a volume with such a wealth of geologic and natural history, as well as a thoughtful inclusion of Plato's writings on Atlantis. The author seems intent on making the secrets of the Santorini volcano and the catastrophic explosion which destroyed the island and made an impact on the Aegean area easily understandable to the average reader, even while discussing geologic formations and the nature of volcanoes. The many photos are quite helpful in understanding the island and its geologic makeup; it was truly

hard to put the book down and I was a little sad when I finished reading, as it had been such a joy to read. I highly recommend this book to amateur rock hounds, vulcanologists, and anyone interested in Santorini.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f986ad4) out of 5 stars now there is a new edition 22 Mar. 2011
By shep - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book has been updated and republished in 2009 as "Santorini: Volcano, Natural History, Mythology" Santorini: Volcano, Natural History, Mythology
20 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f986cf0) out of 5 stars A Bronze Age Blast 22 Aug. 2000
By Robert E. Lumpkin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is a lucid and informative book for both ancient history buffs and those interested in volcanos. The book discusses the Santorini volcano system is detail, and outlines the history of eruptions from the remote past to the present day. The greatest emphasis is on the eruption of 1640 B.C., one of the most violent volcanic explosions of all time.
The text, maps and drawings are excellent, and the author presents not only what we know about the Santorini volcano, but how the scientific conclusions evolved and what the evidence is behind them. The book was published in Germany in 1994, which means that the eruption of Mt. St. Helens had not yet occurred when the book was written. Too bad -- that would have been an excellent example for the author to compare to Santorini.
As a bonus, the cover, the paper quality, printing and photos are all superior to those in most hardback books available today.
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