Friday, 16 November 2018

The worst year to live through in human history

If one were to guess the worst times to live through there are many choices. 1347 CE was nasty. The Black Death hit Europe. The Holocaust, between 1941 and 1945. Or perhaps 1918, the year of the Spanish flu pandemic. Scientists have come up with an answer. 536 CE. 536 was in the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian the Great. Temperatures plunged, causing global chaos - drought, crop failures, summertime snow, and widespread famine.

The Triumph of Death. Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 1562.
In the year 536 CE, volcanic ash and debris was mixed in with the ice layer, indicating a large volcanic event. Greenland and Antarctic ice cores showed evidence of a second eruption in 540 CE. Then in 541, the Justinian Plague appeared, compounding the human misery and death. In a single year, the outbreak killed an estimated 25 million.