Brutal volcanic eruption in Alaska may have helped the collapse of the Ancient Roman Republic
A HUGE volcanic eruption in Alaska may have resulted in the fall of the Roman Republic.
Scientists think a volcanic event 2,500 years ago triggered a global climate shock that led to widespread famine in 43 BC.
Scientists think they’ve pinpointed an ancient volcanic eruption[/caption]
The 43 BC eruption of Mount Okmok on an Alaskan island is an event scholars refer to as ‘Okmok II’.
It’s said to have resulted in spewed ash shading the planet from solar radiation and cooling everything down.
Scientists think this caused one of the coldest Mediterranean summers over the past two millenniums.
The event occurred around the same time as Roman leader Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC.
Their research involved ice core samples[/caption]
Ancient texts from around this time do mention unusually cold weather, dying crops, famine, disease and unrest.
Now researchers are claiming all these factors led to the fall of the Roman Republic.
They’re basing their study on old volcanic ash, also known as tephra, found in ice cores taken from the Arctic.
The eruption occurred just before Julius Caesar’s murder[/caption]
Study co-author Dr Gill Plunkett, an archaeologist at Queen’s University Belfast, said: “The tephra match doesn’t get any better.
“We compared the chemical fingerprint of the tephra found in the ice with tephra from volcanoes thought to have erupted about that time.
“It was very clear the source of the 43 BC fallout in the ice was the Okmok II eruption.”
The eruption wasn’t all bad news for the Roman Republic though.
Julius Caesar’s murder also resulted in a power struggle and ultimately the Roman Empire was formed and shaped the world.
One of the main differences is that the Roman Republic was headed by elected individuals whereas the subsequent Roman Empire was led by ‘dictators’.
The Roman Empire went on to become one of the most powerful that the world has ever seen.
Historians have suspected for a long time that a volcano was responsible for the extreme cold snap mentioned in ancient texts but haven’t had the evidence until now.
Last year, a recent team found a well preserved layer of ancient ice in the Arctic and decided to investigate.
The ice cores contained ancient ash[/caption]
Chemical analysis was used to pinpoint two eruptions, one being the Okmok II event.
Further analysis was also conducted, such as studying tree rings dating back to the time, to try and verify their findings.
The researchers concluded that, for two years after the eruption, ancient people would have experienced summers and autumns that were around 7°C colder than normal.
Conditions were also thought to be extremely wet.
All these factors fit in with ancient accounts from the time and the volcano is even being liked to strange atmospheric phenomena that were described.
Three suns appearing in the sky, the Sun darkening and solar halos were reported at the time and interpreted as omens.
This recent research has given them new meaning and could help us understand this more obscure time in Roman history.
The researchers published their study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A brief history of the Roman Empire
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Roman Empire began shortly after the founding of the Roman Republic in the 6th century BC and reigned for around a thousand years until the fall of the last Western emperor in 476 AD
- During this time, the Romans ruled over many countries in Europe and parts of Africa and the Middle East
- At its height, 90 million people lived in the Roman Empire
- It evolved from a monarchy to a democratic republic to a military dictatorship and then was finally ruled by emperors
- One of the most well-known Roman leaders is Julius Caesar, famously assassinated in 44BC, who is largely credited for his military mind and laying the foundations for the Roman Empire
- The spread of the Roman Empire has had a lasting impact on our lives today with Latin, straight roads, underfloor heating and the spread of Christianity all being attributed to the Romans
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In other news, ancient remains of a suspected ‘Amazon warrior’ have been identified as a girl no older than 13 years old.
A decapitated skeleton buried in an kneeling position has been discovered in central China.
And, ancient dinosaur fossils have led scientists to pinpoint “the most dangerous place in the history of planet Earth”.
What are your thoughts on the Romans? Let us know in the comments…
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