NASA / GSFC / METI / ERSDAC / JAROS and U.S. / Japan Aster Science Team

The placid waters encircled by the island of Thera (modern Santorini) about 500 miles from Egypt, seen here in a satellite photo, give no hint of the volcanic mountain that massively blew its top off thousands of years ago. According to the TV film “The Exodus Decoded,” the volcano’s eruption occurred in about 1500 B.C.E. and set into motion the ten plagues and other events associated with the Biblical Exodus. Producer Simcha Jacobovici finds support for this claim in the Tempest Stele of Pharaoh Ahmose (1540–1515 B.C.E.), currently in storage at the Cairo Museum, which describes a great storm, darkness and other strange events in Egypt. However, scholars have refuted the theory that the stele had anything to do with the Thera eruption, and most prefer to date the Exodus to the Ramesside period (1350–1205 B.C.E.). The film’s entire chronology rests on dating the Thera eruption to 1500 B.C.E., but according to author Manfred Bietak, experts disagree on the dating of the Thera eruption, saying it could have occurred anytime between 1720 and 1500 B.C.E. or even later.