Alaska megaeruption contributed to the collapse of the Roman Republic

After the assassination of military leader and statesman Gaius Julius Caesar In the Ides of March 44 BCE at a Senate meeting, the conspiratorial struggle for power led to decades of civil war, marking the end of the Roman Republic. According to contemporary sources, the collapse of the Republic was accompanied by unusual weather phenomena, as the Sun mysteriously disappeared behind a haze and temperatures dropped significantly, causing widespread crop losses and famine, adding to the crisis. Politics. Part of the meteorological phenomena described can be explained by ash clouds from Etna on the island of Sicily. However, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that the drop in temperatures was the result of a much more distant volcanic eruption.

Layers of ash found in ice cores from Greenland and Russia suggest that around 43 BC. By analyzing the chemical composition of the ash particles recovered and comparing the composition with volcanic rocks of known origin, the researchers identified a possible volcanic source, the Okmok volcano in Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. By calculating the absorption of sunlight by ash particles and sulfur aerosols and considering the size of the Okmok eruption, the largest volcanic eruption in the past 2,500 years, the researchers estimate that the haze The resulting volcanic could have cooled southern Europe and North Africa to 7 ° C for more than two years.

Unlike the Roman Republic, Gaius Octavius, a military leader who became the first emperor of the Roman Empire after Caesar’s death, may have benefited from the climatic uproar following a volcanic eruption.

A series of sulfur spikes, found in ice cores recovered from the Arctic, suggest that at least two volcanic eruptions occurred in 46 and 44 BCE. on the continent. Historical texts document a period of famine, disease and land abandonment, followed by a religious and political crisis in Egypt. Octavian’s troops easily overpowered the starving and demoralized Egyptian soldiers.

In 30 BCE, the last pharaoh of ancient Egypt, the famous and beautiful Cleopatra, committed suicide after a series of disastrous defeats of the Egyptians by the Roman army, including the Battle of Actium on September 31 before our era when part of the fleet deserted. Soon after, the once independent Egypt became a Roman province and Octavian used this military success to consolidate his hold over the nascent Empire.

David C. Barham