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The Eruption of Santorini and the Date and Historicity of Joseph

Colin J. Humphreys , Robert S. White
S & CB 7 (2)
October 1995


We suggest that a cataclysmic eruption of Santorini in the 17th century BC was responsible for major famines in Egypt and the surrounding area recorded in Old Testament writings in the account of Joseph, and we give arguments for the historicity of this account. Evidence of climatic disturbances in the northern hemisphere from tree-ring widths and of a huge acidity spike in ice cores from Greenland are consistent with widespread climatic modification at this time. We suggest that the famines occurred during the period of the Hyksos pharaohs of the Fifteenth Dynasty in Egypt, probably during the reign of King Khyan, thus providing a date for this pharaoh, and also for the Old Testament patriarch Joseph. If our arguments are accepted, the eruption of Santorini, for which we take the best date to be 1628 BC, provides an absolute chronological marker for both ancient Egyptian and ancient Hebrew chronology.

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