Michael McCormick, a Harvard history professor, has studied 20 centuries of catastrophes on the old continent and concluded that 536 “was the beginning of one of the worst periods, if not the worst,” to be alive.
While humankind has suffered horrific periods such as 1349, when the Black Death struck; 1952, when smallpox killed millions in America; and the agonizing time of the Nazi genocide, science believes the worst year in history to be alive to be 536.
The year 536 is regarded as the worst in history, surpassing those horrific events, due to an Icelandic volcanic explosion that plunged the northern hemisphere into darkness for 18 months. According to scientists, it was the start of a series of disasters that afflicted the populace.
In the History of Wars, Procopius, a sixth-century Byzantine historian, wrote: “For the Sun, like the Moon, provided its light without brightness throughout this year and was quite like the Sun in an eclipse, for the rays it cast were not clear or like those, it is accustomed to shedding, and from that point forward, men were not immune to battle, sickness, or anything else that resulted in death.”
Some 1,500 years later, Michael McCormick, a medieval historian at Harvard University, reached a verdict about not only that year, but also about how dreadful the decades that followed were. “It was the start of one of the worst years of my life, if not the worst,” McCormick previously stated.
McCormick claimed in an interview with AccuWeather that it was all driven by rapid and catastrophic climate change. It all began in the spring of 536 when a volcanic outburst initiated Late Antiquity’s Little Ice Age, McCormick told AccuWeather. As a result, cataclysmic eruptions occurred in 540 and 547.
“Gasses from large volcanic eruptions absorbed solar radiation, reducing solar heating of the Earth’s surface,” the expert explained, adding that a climate analysis conducted on tree rings by the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom indicates that the average summer temperature in Eurasia “decreased by between 1.5 and 2.5 degrees Celsius.”
These temperature reductions are a result of the smog that remained following Iceland’s volcano explosion. Numerous historical witnesses said that the skies were black for an entire 18 months, earning 536 its unfavorable label.
The absence of light altered global weather patterns, resulting in summer snowfall in China and the lowest temperature levels in more than 2,300 years, according to a climate reconstruction investigation.
The Historic Ice Core Project houses all of the data that was retrieved, recreated, and examined. That research was conducted in collaboration between the University of Maine and Harvard University.
Scientists used ice core samples from Iceland to create an archaeological timeline and determine the date and location of the eruption. Numerous years of crop failures and famines occurred, resulting in migrations and turmoil throughout Eurasia,” McCormick explained.
According to a glaciologist at the University of Maine who was also involved in the project, his team was able to evaluate 2,000 years of past natural disasters using data extracted from a 72-meter borehole in Iceland, which provided researchers with a historical timeline of element levels.
Scientists evaluated element peaks and decreases throughout history to correlate them with disasters that helped provide a picture of how the planet we live on today was shaped.
While it may seem premature to declare 536 the worst year to live in, given the number of terrible and warlike events that have damaged humanity, McCormick dared to suggest that eyewitness testimonies did not exaggerate the atrocities of the period.