Monday, March 06, 2006

Mount Tambora has explosive history

One of history's most violent volcanic eruptions blasted the island of Sumbawa in the East Indies in 1815. The sulfurous gases and fiery ashes from Mount Tambora cast a pall over the entire world, causing the global cooling of 1816, known as the "year without a summer."

The explosions killed 117,000 people on the island, now part of Indonesia, and wiped out the tiny kingdom of Tambora, on the volcano's western flank. A team of American and Indonesian scientists has now found remains of what it says is the "lost kingdom of Tambora."

In an announcement on Monday by the Graduate School of Oceanography of the University of Rhode Island, the scientists reported uncovering bronze bowls, ceramic pots, fine china, glass, and iron tools in gullies running through the jungle growth 15 miles from the volcano.

"There's potential that Tambora could be the Pompeii of the East, and it could be of great cultural interest," said Haraldur Sigurdsson, a geophysicist at Rhode Island who specializes in volcanoes. Other archaeologists have yet to assess the find.

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