Did a major cataclysmic event plunge humankind into the period known as the early Dark Ages? Scientists now believe the early Dark Ages may have been triggered by a natural event that occurred around 535 A.D.
Science writer David Keys is convinced that the cause of the catastrophic events of 535 A.D. was a phenomenon of cataclysmic proportions. At the center of a complex chain of events seems to be "a loud bang", a volcanic explosion equal to "two thousand million
Hiroshima size bombs" due
to eruption of Krakatoa which is located on Rakata, an island in the Sunda Strait
between Java and . Sumatra, Indonesia
Krakatoa’s eruption in 1883 was one of the most catastrophic ever witnessed in recorded history. Until recently, it’s only known previous eruption was a moderate one in 1680. On the afternoon of Aug. 26, 1883, the first of a series of increasingly violent explosions occurred. A black cloud of ash rose 17 miles (27 kilometers) above Krakatoa. On the morning of the next day, tremendous explosions were heard 2,200 miles (3,540 kilometers) away in
was propelled to a height of 50 miles (80 kilometers), blocking the sun and
plunging the surrounding region into darkness for two and a half days. Australia
The drifting dust caused spectacular red sunsets throughout the following year. Pressure waves in the atmosphere were recorded around the Earth, and tsunamis, or tidal waves, reached as far away as
and South America. The greatest wave reached a
height of 120 feet (36 meters) and took 36,000 lives in the coastal towns of
nearby Java and Sumatra. Near the volcano
masses of floating pumice produced from lava cooled in the sea were thick
enough to halt traveling ships. Everything on the nearby islands was buried
under a thick layer of sterile ash. Plant and animal life did not begin to
reestablish itself to any degree for five years. The volcano was quiet until
1927, when sporadic weaker eruptions began. These tremors have continued into
The subsequent environmental calamity, Keys believes, affected human civilization from Mongolia to Constantinople, precipitating plague, famine, death, great migration, the fall of the Mexican city of Teotihuacán, the Anglo-Saxon victory over the Celts, and even perhaps the rise of Islam.
Such an event happened again as recently as 1815 after the eruption of another Indonesian volcano,
Mount Tambora. The summer of
1816 following this event in fact is now
known as “The Year Without a Summer” (also known as the Poverty Year, The Summer
that Never Was, Year There Was No Summer, and Eighteen Hundred and Froze to
Death) was 1816, in which severe summer climate abnormalities caused average
global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F), resulting in major
food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere.
Today on Far Future Horizons we present the first part of episode one of the acclaimed PBS documentary series Secrets of the Dead, Catastrophe! Part 1: The Day the Sun Went Out, about the cataclysmic climatic events of 535 A.D. and there impact on humanity.
Secrets of the Dead, Catastrophe! is available on VHS tape through Amazon Books.