西暦535年の大噴火―人類滅亡の危機をどう切り抜けたか 単行本 – 2000/2
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The author argues "the event" caused crop failures, plagues, barbarian invasions, destabilization of empires, was the trigger for new religions and the end of older religions, and shaped the distant future up to the modern world. The author also covers nearly every area of the world. Western Europe, the Orient, and the Americas. In each case the argument is the same. A major climatic event in 535 - 536 triggered a massive change in the civilizations, sometimes freezing sometimes dust storms, around the world, ended the ancient world and started the proto modern world. His timing is right. The ancient world was ending from 500 to 700 and it causes were multiple (as the author says and shows) but the author thinks the world wide climate event triggered these changes - or at least most of them.
The event was the enormous eruption of Krakatoa just east of Java. This eruption in 535 was so massive it blew the formally unified island in half turning it into two islands we see today (there were other eruptions, notably in 1883).
A well written book, but there are glitches. Some of the time frames mentioned do not make a lot of sense. The book states that the effects of the blast was continued climate problems for 20 years. Odd, because nearby areas seem to have recovered within five years. Other explanations have flooding mixing with freezing rain in closely related years.
My problem with the analysis is that if a volcano blew up over a period of a year, or even several months, it would have caused similar clamatic impacts around the world. The sulfur, dust, and water blown into the stratosphere could have circled the world and impacted the northern and southern hemisphere to different degrees; however, the impacts would have been similar, the written descriptions would have been similar, and the ice cores and tree ring evidence should have been similar. They were not. Some areas reported freezing and crop failures, other reported yellow dust pilling up in heaps. It takes different climate events to cause different climatic responses.
The one commonality was widespread death, war, and social upheaval. I agree sudden climate change that would be caused by a super eruption, or a large comet hit, or an big astroid strike would unhinge the social structures of earth on a massive scale. When the crops fail everything else fails. Crops are the foundations of all society, cities, specialization, and organization. Without crops all of this goes away and is quickly replaced by chaos and people binding themselves to small groups for protection. Walls go up, cooperation goes down. One can also easily see that people weakened by less food would be open to additional sickness. So the basic hypothesis works. A big, very big, volcanic explosion causes ash, sulfur, water, and dirt to be thrown into the stratosphere, which, from there, circles the globe causing the sun to dim and crops to fail. But his best evidence is not the ice cores or the tree ring studies: it turns out to be the written history of what people saw. The problem, these are few and far between and dating the writings are not easy. This is why he quotes the same authors about 3 times (verbatim) in the book.
Nicely written, and reasoned, but the conclusions can't quite be backed up by the facts given. Too many facts seem to show something different going on in some parts of the world. Notice on the Pine Tree Growth in Northern Finland and the reader will see a massive hot year about 535, the drop in temps, then a rebuilding to about normal in 560. Worse, the graph itself seems to show a widely changing climate with both warm and cold spells. That is the type of data that makes it harder to show that something hit and damaged things for five to ten years or more.
However, it makes one think.