Study links Alaska volcano to fall of Roman Republic

RENO, NEVADA – According to a statement released by the Desert Research Institute, Joe McConnell of the Desert Research Institute, Michael Sigl of the University of Bern and an international team of their colleagues have found evidence of two volcanic eruptions in Arctic ice cores which may have contributed to the downfall of the Roman Republic and the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt. Two years of fallout from the eruptions are thought to have triggered the extreme drop in temperatures and increase in rainfall recorded across the Mediterranean world at this time. Archaeologist Andrew Wilson of the University of Oxford explained that the change in weather likely would have reduced crop yields and increased transport difficulties, possibly contributing to the famine and disease described by ancient sources. Atmospheric phenomena described as omens at the time of Julius Caesar’s assassination may have been caused by the eruption of Mount Etna in Sicily in 44 BC, while analysis of ashes from a second massive event determined that it came from a 43 BC eruption of the Okmok II volcano, located on Umnak Island in Alaska. McConnell said researchers have long speculated that volcanic eruptions contributed to the unrest of the period. To learn more about the correlation between ice core evidence and historical events, see the “History of Ice” section.

David C. Barham