While we think these are tough times, between a pandemic, Russia's war in Ukraine, political tensions and rising inflation, it's not the worst in history. Science is revealing the worst year.
536 AD is the worst. And the weather conditions were key.
According to a 2018 study conducted in Cambridgein 536, a large part of the planet remained in darkness for 18 months.
Europe, the Middle East and part of Asia were victims of a fog that, by blocking the sun's rays, caused a drop in temperatures, crop failures and the death of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of people.
What was the cause of this mysterious fog?
Cambridge researchers explain that earlier in the year, a volcanic eruption occurred in Iceland, whose ash spread throughout the northern hemisphere.
“This eruption was large enough to change global weather patterns and cause years of famine,” explains Michael McCormickwho led the research team with Christopher Loveluck.
“It was a pretty radical change, which happened overnight,” said McCormick, quoted by Science Magazine. “The ancient witnesses were really on to something. It wasn't hysteria, it wasn't doomsday predictions” .
The story tells of this sinister year 536 and the years that followed
This is a key point. Often, when we read stories from the past, we think that they are the fruit of the imagination. However, in order to describe situations that are now explained by science, they have used literary terms.
For example, the Byzantine historian Procopius of Caesarea describes: “The sun emitted its light without brilliance, like the moon, during all this year (…) The men were not safe from the war, the plague or any other thing which led to the death”.
Desperation for food, as well as disease, led to conflict.
Cassiodorus, a Roman politician of the time, says: “We are surprised that we do not see the shadows of our bodies at noon (…) The sun has a bluish color (…) The seasons seem all mixed” .
To make matters worse, the effects of the 536 eruption were compounded by two more eruptions, in 540 and 547. Many scientists describe this period as the Little Ice Age of Late Antiquity.
“It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” in McCormick's words.
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