(ORDO NEWS) — What do you think, what was the worst and most difficult year in the history of mankind? Someone might say that such was the year 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began in the world, which claimed the lives of millions of people.
And people who are more familiar with history mention the year 1347, when an epidemic of the bubonic plague began on our planet. It was a truly horrible time when Europe‘s population fell by a third. And, of course, do not forget the war that lasted from 1941 to 1945. But historian Michael McCormick is inclined to believe that the worst period in human history was AD 536. During this period, there were no outbreaks of disease and even military clashes were very rare. But something truly terrible was observed in the sky: the sun disappeared under a mysterious fog, which caused cold weather and world hunger. What caused the natural changes? Let’s figure it out.
Drought and famine in 536
Even the Byzantine historian Procopius wrote about these difficult times. His works say that throughout the year 536, the sun emitted a dim light and looked like the moon. He also compared this phenomenon with a solar eclipse, when even in the daytime there seemed to be darkness at night. The dense fog that rose above the ground prevented the sun’s rays from reaching the surface, which is why the weather on the planet has changed a lot. Even in the summertime, the air temperature could not rise above 2.5 degrees Celsius. Because of this, drought began in many parts of our planet, which led to a lack of crops and hunger. It is known that snow fell in China this summer – it was so cold there.
The first plague epidemic
But the cold was not a known problem at the time. In 541, the first plague pandemic in history occurred in the world. It all started in the Egyptian city of Pelusium, which was an important trading point between East and West. In 2017, scientists found that the causative agent of a deadly disease was introduced into human bodies through Chinese rodents. Basically, the infected showed all the main signs of bubonic plague: swollen lymph nodes, high fever, pain throughout the body, and so on. But most of all people were shocked by the primary septic form of plague, in which people died right on the day of infection, without any symptoms. In total, more than 90 million people died in the East and Europe during this pandemic.
The most serious natural disaster
Where did the plague come from, we know, but what about the mysterious fog in the sky? To find the exact answer to this question, in 2018, scientists studied a glacier located between Switzerland and Italy. Perennial ice has long allowed scientists to accurately determine what nature was like in different time periods. Let’s say at some point in time there was a powerful volcanic eruption. The ejected substances will surely get into the water, some of which will surely solidify on the glaciers for centuries. By studying the composition of ice at very great depths, scientists can learn about natural disasters that happened hundreds and even thousands of years ago.
Analysis of ice from a glacier between Switzerland and Italy showed that there was indeed a volcanic eruption on Earth in 536 AD. At the very least, this is evidenced by the presence of volcanic ash and debris in the ice. Scientifically, the set of substances thrown into the air by volcanoes and deposited on the surface of the earth is called tephra. At the moment, scientists believe that the sources of emissions were numerous volcanoes in Iceland. Some of the most powerful eruptions caused the onset of the Late Antique Little Ice Age.
Traces of volcanic ash and debris only disappeared in the ice formed around 640. Instead, scientists found many signs of lead, which means that at this time people began to smelt silver from lead ore. Apparently, it was at this time that humanity began to recover from hard times again. It is scary to imagine that the terrible events began in 536 and ended only a century later. Moreover, the hard times began in the most frightening way – the disappearance of sunlight.
Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that such times will no longer exist. At the moment, scientists are very concerned about the problem of global warming. Not only that, due to climatic changes, many plants can disappear and animals die out. Severe environmental changes can affect the number of people living on Earth.
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