Forget global ‘disaster’ that killed millions in the 6th century, is ‘almost unheard of’

File photo: In this Tuesday, Jan, 29, 2019, photo. Mount Merapi spews volcanic material as it erupts as seen from Cangkringan, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Slamet Riyadi)

If you think that you have had a bad year, spare a thought for the poor souls, who lived by means of 536 AD, as well as the millions who are not.

The terrifying year remains one of the deadliest in the history of mankind, and saw the planet was swept by a devastating famine, and disease.

Described by one historian as “the worst year of life”, 536 was a period in which the Earth was plunged into permanent darkness.


The relentless shadow cast by a mysterious fog over Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia.

It blocked out the Sun, day and night, for 18 months, making the snow fall in China, continental-scale crop failure, extreme drought, famine and disease in the largest part of the northern hemisphere.

The apocalyptic scene is not lost on the writers of the time, who recorded the terrifying accounts of life in the shadows.

Byzantine historian Procopius wrote: “For the Sun gave its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year.”

In Ireland, where the mist caused a deadly famine that was in the grip of the nation for three years, 536-539 A. D. was branded “the failure of the bread.”

The fog in question was an unceasing cloud of dust coughed from a volcano in Iceland after a huge eruption.

The continuous volcanic activity produced millions of tonnes of ash that spread over large parts of the world.

A lack of sunlight meant the crops stopped growing, leading to famine and a collapse of the global economy.

We don’t know how many people died during the disaster and the years of turmoil that followed, but it is possible that it stretched into the tens of millions.

The devastation caused by the fog may have given rise to the name “The Dark Ages”.Harvard professor Michael McCormick wealth 536AD is an excellent candidate for the unfortunate distinction of the worst years in the history.

Last year, he told Science Magazine of the world not thought to have recovered to 640 A. D. – more than 100 years later.

Professor McCormick said: “it was the beginning of one of the worst periods of his life, if not the worst year.”

This story originally appeared in The Sun.

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