But in 1626 BC he had evidence of a volcanic explosion somewhere, several magnitudes that of Krakatoa.
He then looked a hundred years on either side of 1500 BC, and again: nothing.
It made the cover of Science in 2006, but the story behind starts 4000 years ago, or on a personal scale, in late 2002.
By the third millennium BCE the presence of rock-cut burial chambers, pottery and stone vases and figurines suggest a period of significant growth.
Quarry workers, digging out the pumice for use in the manufacture of cement for the Suez Canal, chanced upon some stone walls in the middle of their quarry.
These eventually proved to be remains of the long-forgotten town.
Minoan culture, the dominant civilization in the Mediterranean at the time, crumbled as a result of the eruption, historians believe, changing the political landscape of the ancient world indefinitely.