During the Gold Rush, in the Sierra Nevada mountains, near Sonora California, gold miners had dug deep tunnels into Table Mountain.

They found anatomically modern human bones and hundreds of human artefacts, like multiple stone mortars and pestles, ladles, and obsidian spear points:



“In 1891, George F. Becker told the American Geological Society that in the spring of 1869, Clarence King, director of the Survey of the Fortieth Parallel, and a respected geologist, was conducting research at Tuolomne Table Mountain.  Becker stated:”


“At one point, close to the high bluff of basalt capping, a recent wash had swept away all talus and exposed the underlying compact, hard, auriferous gravel beds, which were beyond all question in place.  In examining the exposure for fossils, he [King] observed the fractured end of what appeared to be a cylindrical mass of stone.  The mass he forced out of its place with considerable difficulty on account of the hardness of the gravel in which it was tightly wedged.  It left behind a perfect cast of itself in the matrix and proved to be part of a polished stone implement, no doubt a pestle.”


“Mr. King is perfectly sure this implement was in place and that it formed an original part of the gravels in which he found it.  It is difficult to imagine a more satisfactory evidence than this of the occurrence of implements in the auriferous, pre-glacial, sub-basaltic gravels.”


“From this description and the modern geological dating of the Table Mountain Strata, it is apparent that this object was over 9 million years old.”




James Carvin, describing a hatchet found at Table Mountain:


“This is to certify that I, the undersigned, did about the year 1858, dig out of some mining claims known as the Stanislaus Company, situated in Table Mountain, Tuolumne County, opposite O’Byrn’s Ferry, on the Stanislaus River, a stone hatchet… with a hole through it for a handle.  Its size was four inches across the edge, and length about six inches.  It had evidently been made by human hands.  The above relic was found about sixty to seventy-five feet from the surface in gravel, under the basalt, and about 300 feet from the mouth of the tunnel.  There were also some mortars found, at about the same time and place.”




In 1870, Llewellyn Pierce, describing a 31.5-inch-wide mortar found in the Boston Tunnel Company mine, at Table Mountain:


“Thls is to certify that I, the undersigned, have this day given to Mr. C. D. Voy, to be preserved in his collection of ancient stone relics, a certain stone mortar, which has evidently been made by human hands, which was dug up by me, about the year 1862, under Table Mountain, in gravel, at a depth of about 200 feet from the surface, under the basalt, which was over sixty feet deep, and about 1,800 feet in from the mouth of the tunnel. Found in the claim known as the Boston Tunnel Company."




A skull fragment found at Table Mountain, is housed at The Museum of the Natural History Society of Boston:


From a shaft in Table Mountain, 180 feet below the surface, in gold drift…  Overlying strata of basaltic compactness and hardness.  Found July, 1857.  Given to Rev. C.F. Winslow by Hon. Paul K. Hubbs, August 1857.




On August 2, 1890, J H. Neale, supervisor and chief engineer of Montezuma Tunnel at Table Mountain, signed the following statement about discoveries made by him: 


“In 1877 Mr. J.H. Neale was superintendent of the Montezuma Tunnel Company, and ran the Montezuma Tunnel into the gravel underlying the lava at Table Mountain, Tuolumne County.  …  The mouth is approximately 1200 feet from the present edge of the solid lava cap of the mountain.  At a distance of between 1400 and 1500 feet from the mouth of the tunnel, or of between 200 and 300 feet beyond the edge of the solid lava, Mr. Neale saw several spear heads, of some dark rock and nearly one foot in length.  On exploring further, he himself found a small mortar 3 or 4 inches in diameter and of irregular shape.  This was discovered within a foot or two of the spear-heads. He then found a large well-formed pestle, now the property of Dr. R. I. Bromley, and nearby a large and very regular mortar, also at present the property of Dr. Bromley.


All of these relics were found the same afternoon, and were all within a few feet of one another and close to the bed-rock, perhaps within a foot of it.  Mr. Neale declares that it is utterly impossible that these relics can have reached the position in which they were found excepting at the time the gravel was deposited, and before the lava cap formed.  There was not the slightest trace of any disturbance of the mass or of any natural fissure into it by which access could have been obtained either there or in the neighbourhood.”



The layer of gold-bearing gravels where they found these bones and tools, is dated to between 38-55 million years old.

In these layers of gold-bearing gravels are also plant and animal fossils that date to between 38-55 million years old.

Layers above have been dated, using the Potassium-Argon method, up to 33 million years old.



“In a paper read before the American Geological Society and published in its journal, geologist George F. Becker (1891. pp. 192-193) said:”


"It would have been more satisfactory to me individually if I had myself dug out these implements, but I am unable to discover any reason why Mr. Neale's statement is not exactly as good evidence to the rest of the world as my own would be.”


“He was as competent as I to detect any fissure from the surface or any ancient workings, which the miner recognizes instantly and dreads profoundly.  Someone may possibly suggest that Mr. Neale's workmen 'planted' the implements, but no one familiar with mining will entertain such a suggestion for a moment .... The auriferous gravel is hard picking, in large part it requires blasting, and even a very incompetent supervisor could not possibly be deceived in this way.  In short, there is, in my opinion, no escape from the conclusion that the implements mentioned in Mr. Neale's statement actually occurred near the bottom of the gravels, and that they were deposited where they were found at the same time with the adjoining pebbles and matrix."



All these accounts (and many more), are extensively detailed in:

Forbidden Archaeology

The Hidden History of the Human Race

Michael Cremo and Richard Thomson

Section 5.5.3  -  Tuolumne Table Mountain


The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California

Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History


Dr. Josiah Dwight Whitney

State Geologist of California




You, the reader, might be wondering something like:


“What if the Potassium-Argon dating method is simply wrong, and the human artefacts are therefore much much younger.”


OK then!


Many alternative ancient historians have been screaming this for decades now – that the geological record, having been built based on the assumption of gradual incremental changes as we see them today (thereby calibrating the dating methods according to this assumption), the geological record might be much much younger than we think it is, much more contracted.  So, maybe that lava cap was much younger.  Maybe those plant fossils, that we had previously dated, in other rock strata, around the world, using the same Potassium-Argon dating, were also much much younger, thereby perpetuating the error with any subsequent finds.




Out of the various ways in which one may go about dating ancient stone, the only one that would work on the ~100-million –year theoretical timescales involved here, at Table-Mountain, is, indeed, the Potassium-Argon dating method.



Radiocarbon dating method:

Max = 70 thousand years.


Luminescence (optically or thermally stimulated) dating method:

Max = 1 million years.


Electron Spin Resonance dating method:

This has a maximum range of 3 million years, but requires the material to be uranium-bearing.


Cosmogenic Nuclides dating method:

“Radioactive decay of cosmic-ray generated nuclides in surficial environments”

Max = 5 million years.

Only on exposed rock surfaces.  Would not work under Table Mountain.


The only remaining dating method, that does not require uranium-bearing materials is:

The Potassium-Argon dating method:

Max range = 1 billion years (theoretically).




In Gareth Samuel’s See The Pattern  youtube entitled:

Rapid Stratification Experiments Raise Questions about how we Date Rock Layers!

  @ ~7:00

  Gareth says:


“Brent Dalrymple who is a leading specialist in Potassium-Argon dating, has given examples of several volcanoes, where the year of eruption is historically known, and where the Potassium-Argon dating is completely divergent.”




The whole point of this current page, is, again, to establish a comprehensive baseline of the frequency of cyclical ecological stresses and ecological bonanzas; and of the nature and amplitude of various ecological processes that we are unfamiliar with today; and to also give a sense of volatility – the random assaults or the random concentrated bonanzas, ecologically speaking.


If the Potassium-Argon dating method is the primary method we use to date the goings-on of our very ancient ancestors, and other creatures, like Dinosaurs and their ancient plant-friends; then maybe the frequency of the visible changes in ecology and climate and geology, visible in the rocks, tens of millions of years ago, maybe (if you, the reader, would like to bring the Table-Mountain human artefacts to within more reasonable time-frames), maybe what we think happened tens of millions of years ago, was only millions of years ago, or in some cases, only hundreds of thousands of years ago.


If this is so, then our baseline of frequency of events has just contracted by an order of magnitude or so.  If we see geomagnetic reversals occurring at certain intervals in the rock strata, and now the geologic record is contracted by a factor of ten, then maybe the next geomagnetic reversal would be ten times sooner, for example.  Or, we’ve been around for up to 55 million years.  Take your pick.  Of course, it’s not that simple, because the geologic record was not built from the Potassium-Argon method alone.  But, it being the primary method for the range of time that we think us primates have been “evolving”, at least that part of the geological/”evolutionary” record would benefit from healthy scrutiny.































Most people dwelling in the Sahara region, while it is thick with lush greenery, full of wildlife, lakes, forests, mangrove marshes, and extensive river systems, from coast to coast to coast, – most people dwelling in this are not aware that the Sahara region will eventually return to desert, like clockwork.

Most people dwelling in the Sahara region, while it is desert, barren, without a scrap of wildlife, or green vegetation, and all the mega-lakes have dried up, and the forests have been cleared, – most people dwelling in this are not aware that the Sahara region will eventually return to lush green water-rich wilderness, like clockwork.


Every 20 thousand years or so, the Sahara region switches from desert to green paradise, and then back to desert.  Seeing as this cycle involves geologically very large things over very large areas, it is generally hard to notice and track, due to our relative speed of perception of these events, and so: during the thousands of years of desert, it seems like it has always been desert; and during the thousands of years of green, it seems to have always been green.  This has been consistently transpiring for a few million years now.


Smack-dab in the middle of the Sahara, located 1000 miles south of Algiers, “Tassili n’ Ajjer”, which translates to “Plateau of Rivers”, a seemingly sarcastic name, is the site of the first modern discovery of the remnants of an amazingly rich, lush, green Sahara:



“Carved and painted on the rocky cliff walls, usually under an overhanging ledge, were pictures of animals now found only deep in the jungles and savannahs of Central Africa.  Great processions of elephants, antelopes, and wild buffalo marched across the rock.  Hippopotamuses, crocodiles, and water snakes swam over the stones.  And baboons, wild boar, ostriches, and lions cavorted around the walls.  All the animals now associated with tropical Africa are seen in the paintings – plus some prehistoric beasts that are now extinct.


Obviously, the climate of this area was once much, much different.  Great life-giving rivers bordered by teeming, humid jungles must have once flowed through what is now only an endless sea of sand.  How different life must have been for the people who lived here then!


The animal pictures most often appear on the exposed faces of high cliffs.  Deeper inside the natural caves, however, the drawings show the people themselves: farming, dancing, hunting, herding animals, and playing music.  The drawings have a simple, childish, and sometimes comic character, with the women looking like plump little butterballs.  (Perhaps fat was beautiful for these people.  Certainly they suffered no food shortages!)”


Where Did They Go?

James Cornell

pages 3-7

Scholastic Book Services, 1976




“The hippopotamus, shown being hunted from canoes, indicates the existence of living rivers.  And for a huge beast such as an elephant – which eats an average of 450 pounds of forage a day – to have lived on the Tassil N’ Ajjer and the surrounding area, there must have been a dense cover of vegetation.  This must have existed, too, to satisfy the appetites of a large number of domesticated animals, whose existence can be assumed from the many painted pastoral scenes.  …”


 “…  There is a wide variety of colour and pattern in the coats of the animals, and the cows’ udders are well-developed – both characteristics which point to an advanced stage of domestication.  As far as can be judged from the paintings, the cattle seem to have been in excellent physical condition, and their graceful outlines are a further indication of very good pasture.”


The World’s Last Mysteries

Henri Lhote

Author of a short summary in this Reader’s Digest special

The Reader’s Digest Association, 1978

Page 214



“… until about 5,000 years ago, Lake Chad still covered a considerable area.  Rivers such as the Tilemsi, the Tafassasset, the Timmersoi and the Tamanrasset ran regularly, keeping the region moist and encouraging the growth of a luxuriant carpet of vegetation.  The peaks of the Hoggar, the Tassili N’ Ajjer, and the Tibesti enjoyed a Mediterranean climate, and analyses of ancient pollens have shown that Allepo-pine grew there, together with cypresses, cedars, ash trees, evergreen oaks, nettle trees, walnuts, alders, myrtle, limes and olives.”



Page 212



“ … The present camel period started around 2,000 years ago.”



Page 209

















“There is a huge correlation between historical large volcanic eruptions and the spread of global disease pandemics.  There is a correlation between these climate-change events and war and conflict as people fight over limited resources.


So, you can go through the history of civilization, and tie it to very strong correlations with changes in our geology systems [and] our climate systems, and I’ll give you one of the most interesting examples:


The rise of the Roman Empire.  This comes from a wonderful paper that involved Harvard historian Michael McCormick and others.  [The rise of the Roman Empire] corresponded to a very strong monsoon climate in North Africa, which was making the Nile river flood reliably, every year, and so enormous grain crops were grown.  Of course, Rome controlled North Africa, so boatloads of this grain was being shipped to Rome.  It’s how they fed their people.  It’s how they paid their army.  And so, this was the golden age of Rome. 


Well, starting about the year 150 AD, that started to tail off, and by the year 300, that monsoon system in North Africa had largely shut off.  No more grain.  Couldn’t pay the army.  The Army [then] rebels, and from the year 300 onward the Roman and Byzantine empires really are struggling.


This is also a period of multiple extreme weather events – extreme droughts, extreme floods, famines.  And, the final blow happened in the years 536 and 540.  2 massive volcanoes – one in Iceland [and] one in El Salvador, dropped global climate several degrees, for decades.  We see that in tree-ring evidence [and] we see that in ice-core evidence, and this was the first global pandemic of the bubonic plague, which corresponds to this time.


So, you can trace back our history – our rise and fall of our civilizations, and motions of people around the world, and it’s in both a history book and a geology book, and it’s just so cool to combine them together and put them side by side.”


Michael Wysession

Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Washington University in St. Louis

In conversation with The Great Courses Select























Every so often, the entire Juan De Fuca tectonic plate suddenly ruptures and shoves itself under the North American plate, all at once, like a big unzipping of the skin of the Earth, off the coasts of Southern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and northern California, all the way down, all in one fell swoop, inducing a magnitude 9 undersea earthquake, inducing the formation of a significant tsunami, while causing the entire coastal landmass to subside (drop in altitude), by around 10 feet, which, along with the tsunami, inundates lower-lying coastal forests with salt water, poisoning the trees, creating ghost forests that still stand to this day, whose tree-rings have been dated.

The last time this happened was in the year 1700 (precisely 1700, on January 26th, at 9pm, based on tree-rings, and an account of the wave reaching Japan).  Before that, based on radio-carbon dating of the inundated vegetation smothered by incoming sand washed in by the tsunamis, the same horrendous situation occurred between 1013-1064, and before that, between 647-710, and before that between 349-409, and before that sometime between 703 BC - 364 BC.  Before that, based on dating the remnants of sub-marine landslides (“turbidites”) that accompany this massive shaking of the earth, it seems as though the interval between these cataclysms is around once every 500 years, but it’s not exactly every 500 years, it’s all over the place.  Sometimes a thousand years will go by without a single one, but then they will cluster and happen more frequently during other stretches lasting a couple thousand years apiece.

Within this context, the fact that 3 unzippings of the Juan De Fuca/North-America plate boundary occurred within 600 years, indicates that this period (~349 - ~1064 AD) was one of those unusual concentrations of these unzippings.  Before the 349-409 unzipping/quake/tsunami event, there had not been a single one for at least 700 years, and possibly up to 1000 years previous. 


Calibrated date-ranges provided by Brian Atwater

USGS, University of Washington


















303 AD

 5th December


“A star fell in the middle of the day, from the north of the zenith.  Its light became white, and there was an explosion similar to a thunderclap.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine

Pendant Vingt-Quatres Siècles

Édouard Biot



à “General Cataloge of Shooting Stars

and Other Meteorites Observed in China

Over the Course of Twenty-Four Centuries”






“The year 614, were broken down the walls of Edessa the second time in the days of Diocletian the king.”


Chronicle of Edessa

Cowper, Benjamin Harris (1865)

Journal of Sacred Literature and Biblical Record. 5 (9): 28-45

Online edition by Robert Pearce, 2003






“… there ensued wars and revolts, famine and plagues and incessant droughts, so that the living were insufficient to bury the dead. Thunderbolts and terrors were sent forth so that each person thought only about himself and many of the ordinances remained in abeyance.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor

Byzantine chronicler (~759 – ~818)

Translated by Cyril Mango And Roger Scott

with the assistance of Geoffrey Greatrex

Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997





 15th September


There appeared a star as large as the sun.  From the south-west she glided to the north-east.  Another, smaller one, large as a bushel, followed it.  The sky was all red, and a noise was heard similar to thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 23rd October


“A fiery star fell in the north-west with great noise.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A most violent earthquake shook Alexandria, with many houses collapsing and considerable loss of life”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“The basilica at Nicomedia was burned down by a divine fire.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“A famine occurred in the East which was so extremely severe that villagers gathered together in great throngs in the territory of the Antiochenes and of Kyros and assailed one another and stole [food] in attacks by night and, finally, even in daylight they would break into the granaries, looting and stealing everything in the storehouses before they went away.  A modius of corn cost 400 pieces of silver. 


Constantine the Great graciously gave an allowance of corn to the churches in each city to provide continuous sustenance for widows, the poor in hostels, and for clerics. The Church in Antioch received 36,000 modii of corn.

In the same year, during a very severe earthquake in Cyprus, the city of Salamis collapsed and killed a considerable number.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“There was a star-fall six french miles north-east ofYe (Tchang-te-fou du Ho-nan).  The meteor was initially red-black: a yellow cloud extended like a curtain, occupying several hundred feet; a rolling muffled sound like thunder, made itself heard.  The meteor fell to earth and threw out a burning vapour: the dust climbed to the heavens.


Laborourers went in to examine the area: the earth was hot.  They saw a large stone larger than a foot, dark-blue, rather light; which resounded like an instrument.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“In Antioch a star appeared in the eastern part of the sky during the day, emitting much smoke as though from a furnace, from the third to the fifth hour.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“Antioch was shaken by severe earthquakes for three days.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“During a severe earthquake in Cyprus, the greater part of the city of Salamis fell.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“During a severe earthquake, Neocaesarea in Pontos was destroyed except the church, the bishop's palace, and the pious men who were there.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor





“The island of Rhodes collapsed during a severe earthquake.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“Dyrrachium in Dalmatia was destroyed by an earthquake and Rome suffered tremors for three days. Twelve cities in Campania were destroyed.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“Most of the city of Berytos in Phoenicia collapsed during a severe earthquake.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“A thunderbolt from heaven struck the rest [of the fleeing Persian army] and the din of thunder, of gloomy clouds, and violent rain brought panic to all so that the majority died of fright.


Assailed on all sides, the new Pharaoh, Sabores, was overcome by the waves of fear. Directing his gaze at the collapsed section of wall, he saw an angel in brilliant apparel standing on the top, holding the emperor Constantius by the hand.  Terrified by this, he threatened the magi with instant death.  When they had learned the reason, they admitted in their interpretation to the emperor that the vision had greater power than they had.


Having, therefore, recognized the cause of the danger and being filled with fear, he ordered that the war engines be burned and that the remaining equipment which had been prepared for the war be destroyed.


He himself with his entourage made for his country in flight, but they perished first from a pestilential disease.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor




Just as Travis Walton “remembered” seeing things after being struck by a lightning bolt a foot wide, could it be that those who reported this were suffering from similar problems?  Could Sabores have hallucinated a vision, as a result of a lightning strike, or “remembered” the vision retrospectively, and his description – his report, his interpretation, eventually made it to Theophanes – a report from that side of the war.  How else would Theophanes be so detailed about what was happening on the other side?  So, could it be that that the weather was real, the battle was real, and the bolts were real, then Sabores, after getting zapped, hallucinated, saw an “angel”, then he told his men the “vision”, then maybe the news spread of this to the Byzantine/Roman side, and the Romans gladly agreed with the “vision”?






 14th May


“There appeared a shooting star as large as a bushel: its color was reddish-yellow.  …  A sound was heard similar to that of thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“… while Cyril was bishop of Jerusalem, the sign of the life-giving Cross appeared in the sky on the day of Pentecost. It was luminous and stretched from Golgotha, where Christ was crucified, to the Mount of Olives, where He was taken up.  All round the sign that appeared was a crown like the rainbow.  And on the same day it was seen by Constantius.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“Some terrible earthquakes took place in Macedonia, Asia Minor, and Pontus, and their repeated shocks overthrew many towns, and even mountains. But the most remarkable of all the manifold disasters which they caused was the entire ruin of Nicomedia, the metropolis of Bithynia; which I will here relate with truth and brevity.


On the 23rd of August, at daybreak, some heavy black clouds suddenly obscured the sky, which just before was quite fair.  And the sun was so wholly concealed that it was impossible to see what was near or even quite close, so completely did a thick lurid darkness settle on the ground, preventing the least use of the eyes.


Presently, as if the supreme deity were himself letting loose his fatal wrath, and stirring up the winds from their hinges, a violent raging storm descended, by the fury of which the groaning mountains were struck, and the crash of the waves on the shore was heard to a vast distance. And then followed typhoons and whirlwinds with a horrid trembling of the earth, throwing down the whole city and its suburbs.


And as most of the houses were built on the slopes of the hills, they now fell down one over the other, while all around resounded with the vast crash of their fall. In the meantime the tops of the hills re-echoed all sorts of noises, as well as outcries of men seeking their wives and children, and other relations.


At last, after two hours, or at least within three, the air became again clear and serene, and disclosed the destruction which till then was unseen. Some, overwhelmed by the enormous masses of ruins which had fallen upon them, were crushed to death.  Some were buried up to the neck, and might have been saved if there had been any timely help at hand, but perished for want of assistance; others were transfixed by the points of beams projecting forth, on which they hung suspended.


Here was seen a crowd of persons slain by one blow; there a promiscuous heap of corpses piled in various ways — some were buried beneath the roofs of falling houses, which leant over so as to protect them from any actual blows, but reserved them for an agonizing death by starvation. Among whom was Aristaenetus, who, with the authority of deputy, governed Bithynia, which had been recently erected into a province; and to which Constantius had given the name of Piety, in honour of his wife Eusebia, (a Greek word, equivalent to Pietas in Latin); and he perished thus by a lingering death.


Others who were overwhelmed by the sudden fall of vast buildings, are still lying entombed beneath the immovable masses. Some with their skulls fractured, or their shoulders or legs cut through, lay between life and death, imploring aid from others suffering equally with themselves; but in spite of their entreaties they were abandoned.


Not but what the greater part of the temples and buildings and of the citizens also would have escaped unhurt, if a fire had not suddenly broken out, which raged with great violence for fifty days and nights, and destroyed all that remained.


I think this a good opportunity to enumerate a few of the conjectures which the ancients have formed about earthquakes.  For as to any accurate knowledge of their causes, not only has that never been attained by the ignorance of the common people, but they have equally eluded the long lucubrations and subtle researches of natural philosophers.


And on this account in all priestly ceremonies, whether ritual or pontifical, care is taken not at such times to name one god more than another, for fear of impiety, since it is quite uncertain which god causes these visitations.”


Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

Book 17

Chapter 7

London: Bohn (1862)

Online edition: Roger Pearse, 2007






“Just as winter was approaching, there was a fearful scarcity of water, so that some rivers were dried up, and fountains too, which had hitherto abounded with copious springs. But afterwards they all were fully restored.


And on the second of December, as evening was coming on, all that remained of Nicomedia was destroyed by an earthquake, and no small portion of Nicaea.”


Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

Book 22

Chapter 13






“Julian, who was residing in Antioch and continually went up to Daphne to honour the idol of Apollo, did not receive any reply from it, which he was expecting.  And realizing that the relics of the holy martyr Babylas, which lay in Daphne, were keeping the idol silent, he sent out a decree that all the relics of the dead buried there, including those of the martyr, were to be moved.


When this happened, the temple was burned down completely during the night [by a fire] from heaven, and the idol was so burned up that not a trace of it remained (it was said to have stood for years), while the temple was so utterly destroyed that men in later times who saw its ashes marvelled at this miracle of God's miracle-working.


Julian, being amazed at this, and suspecting that it was the result of a plot by the Christians, began an investigation of the priests who lived there, subjecting them to all kinds of tortures, so that some of them died.


The only thing he learned from them was that this was not the work of Christians nor any human plot, but that the fire which burned the temple and the statues had descended from heaven, and that on that night, as the fire came down, it had appeared to some people in the countryside.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor







“In these times the Holy Cross was seen shining in the heavens, from Golgotha to the holy Mount of Olives, circled by a wreath of light; it was even brighter than in the time of Constantius.  Of its own accord the sign of the Cross appeared on altar-cloths, books and church vestments as well as on clothes not only of Christians but also of Jews, not only in Jerusalem but in Antioch and other cities.  Those Jews and pagans who impudently did not believe, found their clothes covered with crosses.  On some they were even black.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“For several days in succession many terrible omens were seen, as if the gods were offended, since those who were skilled in the interpretation of prodigies foretold that impending events would be melancholy.


For the statue of Maximian Caesar, which was placed in the vestibule of the palace, suddenly lost the brazen globe, formed after the figure of the heavens, which it bore in its hand.  Also the beams in the council chamber sounded with an ominous creak; comets were seen in the daytime, respecting the nature of which natural philosophers differ.”


Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

Book 25

Chapter 10




In the 363 Galilee earthquake, the Jewel of Arabia, the masterwork of accomplished water harvesters, the city of Petra, was “fatally damaged”, along with its advanced water system.






“Valens [364-378] took Rome and adhered to the faith of Nicaea. He declared as Augustus his son Gratianus.  Then he went to Marcianopolis in Egypt.  When he arrived there an earthquake occurred, the likes of which had never happened, and had never been heard of.  For when the sea shook, it hurled ships over the city wall and then retreated to a lower level than before.  A multitude of folk gathered to loot the ships.  But then the sea returned and drowned all of them and then spread out over the land, engulfing many cities and districts.”


Chronicle of Michael the Syrian (Michael the Great)

Patriarch of the Syrians


Translated from Classical Armenian

by Robert Bedrosian

page 84 (pdf page number)







“While this usurper [Procopius] yet lived, whose various deeds and whose death I have described, on 21 July in the year in which Valentinian was consul for the first time with his brother [A.D. 365], fearsome terrors suddenly strode through the whole circle of the world, the like of which neither legends nor truthful ancient histories tell us.


Slightly after daybreak, and heralded by a thick succession of fiercely shaken thunderbolts, the solidity of the whole earth was made to shake and shudder, and the sea was driven away, its waves were rolled back, and it disappeared, so that the abyss of the depths was uncovered and many-shaped varieties of sea-creatures were seen stuck in the slime; the great wastes of those valleys and mountains, which the very creation had dismissed beneath the vast whirlpools, at that moment, as it was given to be believed, looked up at the sun's rays.


Many ships, then, were stranded as if on dry land, and people wandered at will about the paltry remains of the waters to collect fish and the like in their hands; then the roaring sea as if insulted by its repulse rose back in turn, and through the teeming shoals dashed itself violently on islands and extensive tracts of the mainland, and flattened innumerable buildings in towns or wherever they were found. Thus in the raging conflict of the elements, the face of the earth was changed to reveal wondrous sights.


For the mass of waters returning when least expected killed many thousands by drowning, and with the tides whipped up to a height as they rushed back, some ships, after the anger of the watery element had grown old, were seen to have sunk, and the bodies of people killed in shipwrecks lay there, faces up or down.


Other huge ships, thrust out by the mad blasts, perched on the roofs of houses, as happened at Alexandria, and others were hurled nearly two miles from the shore, like the Laconian vessel near the town of Methone which I saw when I passed by, yawning apart from long decay.”


Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

Book 26

Chapter 10


Translation taken from:

Ammianus and the Great Tsunami

Gavin Kelly

The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 94 (2004), pp. 141-167





 10th December


“A large shooting star fell in the west.  A noise was heard like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“For a very few days before some of those comets, which ever give token of the ruins of lofty fortunes, and of which we have already explained the origin, appeared in the heavens.  Also, a short time before, a thunderbolt fell at Sirmium, accompanied with a terrific clap of thunder, and set fire to a portion of the palace and senate-house: and much about the same time an owl settled on the top of the royal baths at Sabaria, and pouring forth a funeral strain, withstood all the attempts to slay it with arrows or stones, however truly aimed, and though numbers of people shot at it in diligent rivalry.”


Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

Book 30

Chapter 5





20th November


“A star ran toward the south-east…  There was a sound like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A celestial dog fell in the north-east with noise.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 4th April


“A large star came from the east, going to the south.  It had a tail 60-70 feet or degrees which touched the earth.  Noise was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A star fell in the province of llo-pe (north of the yellow river).  It made a noise like thunder, and emanated a glow which illuminated both sky and ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“The walls of Edessa were again broken down by water the third time, in the days of Honorius and Arcadius the victorious kings.”


Chronicle of Edessa






“Describing a huge volcanic event in the Sunda Straits area (between Sumatra and Java) where Krakatoa is located (“Krakatau” in Javanese), the chronicle known as the Pustaka Raja Purwa (the Book of Ancient Kings) says that a ‘mighty roar of thunder’ came out of a local mountain (Mount Batuwara, now called Pulosari).


“There was a furious shaking of the earth, total darkness, thunder and lightning.


Then came forth a furious gale together with torrential rain and a deadly storm darkened the entire world.


A great flood then came from Mount Batuwara and flowed eastwards to Mount Kamula [now called Mount Gede].”


The chronicle then claims that the eruption was so massive that large areas of land sank below sea level, creating the straits which currently separate Sumatra and Java.  Claiming to describe the dramatic course of events, the chronicle says that:


“When the waters subsided it could be seen that the island of Java had been split in two, thus creating the island of Sumatra.”


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

Arrow Books, 2000

pages 377-378






“After Dathi, son of Fiachra, son of Eochaidh Muighmheadhoin, had been, twenty three years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he was killed by a flash of lightning, at Sliabh Ealpa.”


Annals of the Four Masters

Translated by John O'Donovan

Electronic edition compiled by Emma Ryan

Proof corrections assistance: Marcos Balé


CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

A project of University College, Cork, Ireland



Dates in the Annals of the Four Masters can be off by up to 5 years, especially this far back.






“Dust came down from heaven.”


Chronicle of Edessa





 6th July


“There appeared in the south-west a star as large as five bushels.  It split into 6 or 7 shards.  Noise was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 22th October


“A large shooting star illuminated the ground.  Repeated noises were heard.  Many successive strikes.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“This year a great earthquake shook the province of Pontus.”


The Annals of Ulster

Electronic edition compiled by Pádraig Bambury, Stephen Beechinor

Funded by University College, Cork and

Professor Marianne McDonald via the CELT Project

Proof corrections by Pádraig Bambury, Stephen Beechinor


Chronicon Scotorum dates this to 495 instead.






“A star of marvellous size and brilliancy appeared, shining with one single ray, attached to this ray, was extended a ball of fire, in the shape of a dragon, and out of its mouth proceeded two rays, one of which appeared to extend its length beyond the regions of Gaul, and the other was bent towards the Irish sea, and terminated in seven smaller rays.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster

Translated from the original by

C.D. Yonge, B.A.

Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Covent Garden, London






“Many locusts appeared, but did no great damage that year: but the herbage grew again. And there was a great earthquake. And the warm bath of the Iberians failed three days. And the city of Nicopolis was overthrown, and buried in it all its inhabitants, save the temple, and the bishop, and two Syncelli (sons of his cell).  


And a sign that was like a spear appeared in heaven many days, in the month Canun the latter (January).”


Chronicle of Edessa






“Many locusts came and destroyed and devoured all the produce.”


Chronicle of Edessa






“A great fire appeared on the side of the north, which blazed all night on the twenty-second of Ab (August).”


Chronicle of Edessa






“A certain exceedingly mad man from Africa, named Olympus, while he was in a bath blaspheming the Holy Trinity, was burnt by a thunderbolt which came down on him from heaven.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster







“After Lughaidh, son of Laeghaire, had been twenty five years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he was killed at Achadh Farcha, being struck by a flash of lightning, by the miracles of God, on account of the insult which he had offered to Patrick, as this quatrain states:


At Achadh Farcha warlike,

the death of Laeghaire's son, Lughaidh occurred,

Without praise in heaven or here,

a heavy flash of lightning smote him.


Annals of the Four Masters






“In the Books of the Sui dynasty we read:


"In the Liang dynasty (A. D. 502—557), in the second year of the T'ien kien era (503), there were dragons fighting in a pool in Northern Liang province.  They squirted fog over a distance of some miles.


As to the evils of dragons and snakes the Hung fan wu hing chu’en  says :


“These are trouble and damage of dragons and beasts. That which belongs to Heaven is symbol of the Ruler. If the Heavenly breath is injured, and the Tao of the ruler is wounded, also the dragons are injured. Their fights are symbols of weapons and shields.”


King Fang says in his Yih Fei heu ("Flying observations on divination"):


“When the hearts of the multitude are not quiet, dragon fights are the bad omens thereof.  At that time the Emperor for the first time ascended the throne, and there was a riot of Ch’en Poh-chi and Liu Li-lien. Danger and fear prevailed in the empire.”


The Dragon in China and Japan

Marinus Willem de Visser


pages 46-47


Sourced from:

Exodus to Arthur

Catastrophic Encounters with Comets

Mike Baillie, 1999





 10th October


“In the north-west of the sky, we heard, in several successive instances, a muffled noise.  A red vapour descended all the way to the ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“… a star appeared in the East, a terrifying comet which had a ray extending downward. The astronomers described this as 'bearded'.  And there was fear.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor







"In the sixth month of the fifth year of the P’u t'ung era (524 A.  D.) dragons fought in the pond of the King of K’uh o (?).  They went westward as far as Kien ling ch'ing.  In the places they passed all the trees were broken.  The divination was the same as in the second year of the T'ien kien era (503 A.  D.), namely that their passing Kien ling and the trees being broken indicated that there would be calamity of war for the dynasty, and that it was a sign that the Imperial tombs would be destroyed.


At that time the Emperor considered the holding of discussions to be his only task, and did not think of ploughing.  His fighting generals were careless, his soldiers idle, and the Tao of the Ruler was injured.  Therefore there was the corresponding fact of the dragons' evil.  The Emperor did not at all become conscious (of the danger).”


The Dragon in China and Japan

pages 46-47


Citing the Books of the Sui dynasty


Sourced from:

Exodus to Arthur

Catastrophic Encounters with Comets

Mike Baillie, 1999






“During the late Taihe period, beginning about the time of the move to the new capital, rebellions rose up over all of North China and reached a peak in the years 524-525 with the revolt of the men stationed at the six garrison towns on the northern borders of the empire.  …  After their defeat, a large number of the rebel army, destitute and hungry, were sent together with people from the devastated Pingcheng area to Hebei, a normally rich agricultural area, where there was supposed to be more food.  But there was famine in Hebei, and civil unrest spread – to Hebei and farther east to Shangdong.


In 524, when rebellions erupted all over North China, Xiao was sent to quell the uprisings in Guanzhong (the area surrounding Chang’an).  There he fought for three years with some initial success.  But his army became worn down by incessant action.  In 527, he suffered a major defeat and retreated to Chang’an.”


China: Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD

James C. Y. Watt and company

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2004

page 30






 “ … the portent which had come to the citizens of Antioch in the reign of Anastasius [491 to 518] reached this final fulfilment for them.  For at that time a violent wind suddenly fell upon the suburb of Daphne, and some of the cypresses which were there of extraordinary height were overturned from the extremities of their roots and fell to the earth--trees which the law forbade absolutely to be cut down.


[526 AD] [?]  Accordingly, a little later, when Justinus was ruling over the Romans, the place was visited by an exceedingly violent earthquake, which shook down the whole city and straightway brought to the ground the most and the finest of the buildings, and it is said that at that time three hundred thousand of the population of Antioch perished.  And finally in this capture the whole city, as has been said, was destroyed.  Such, then, was the calamity which befell the men of Antioch.”


History of the Wars


Book 2, chapter 14

William Heinemann Ltd, London

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard University Press

First Printed 1916

E-text prepared by Jonathan Ingram, jayam, and the Project Gutenberg

Online Distributed Proofreading Team (http://www.pgdp.net/)


Not sure about the 526 date.

The Antioch quake was in 525, for sure.

It can’t be the repeat quake in 528, because Justinian would have started his rule by then (in 527)

 (Justinian is not to be confused with Justin I “Justinus”, who preceded him.)






“In this period, the waters of Shiloh vanished for 15 years.  In this period too fire fell from the sky and burned the city of Balbek—which Solomon had constructed on Mt.  Lebanon—and the palaces located there.  However there were three stones which Solomon had placed there to the mystery of the Trinity which were undamaged.”


Chronicle of Michael the Syrian

page 105-106






“Now it came about that in the second hour of evening a major flood poured down from the mountains.  It clashed against the [city] [of Edessa] walls and retreated.  The second time it came, it demolished the walls, and coursed over the city, killing man and beast alike by carrying them into the Euphrates River.


… Thirty thousand dead [bodies] were recovered from this flood, while the figure given by the city's residents for those known to have been carried away by the waters was 200,000.


… A fifth earthquake rocked the entire city and all the buildings, homes, palaces, and churches collapsed.


A completely new phenomenon was observed, for the wind delivered the punishment of Sodom.  The river boiled over, and up from the depths came black waters bearing crustaceans, turtles, and the bones of wild animals.  The earth vomited up fire and water.  And fatal fumes arose which brought death to man and beast through different ailments.  For some days fire, like rain, coursed down through the air.  Everyone could hear the wails [of the injured], but no one dared to approach.


For one and a half months the earthquakes and the fiery rain continued without cease.  The great basilica, which Constantine had built, shook for seven days like a stalk in the wind until it cracked and fire arose to burn the church.  Only twelve hundred and fifty souls survived these disasters.  Suddenly there appeared a luminous Cross in the sky which disappeared after three days.  And the people cried: "Lord, have mercy, Lord, have mercy." The cries of despair from people trapped [under the rubble] could be heard until their last breath.


Other areas also were ruined: Syrian Seleucia by the sea, and the city of Daphne, as well as an area of twenty mil about Antioch, and Anazarbus, the metropolis of Cilicia, and Corinth, the metropolis of Greece.”


Chronicle of Michael the Syrian

pages 105-106





“In this year in October of the 4th indiction the prelude to God's anger visited the city of Antioch. For a great conflagration arrived unseen in the middle of the city, which foretold the coming threat from God.


The fire was kindled at the martyrium of St Stephen and extended as far as the Praetorium of the magister militum.  This was the beginning of anguish.  The fires lasted for six months, many houses were burned, and many people perished.


No one was able to discover from where the fire was lit; for it flared up from the rooftiles of five-storey buildings.


By the mediation of the patriarch Euphrasios the emperor granted to the city two centenaria of gold.  On 20 May of the same 4th indiction, at the seventh hour, while Olybrius was consul in Rome, Antioch, the great city of Syria, suffered inexplicable disaster through God's anger. So great was the wrath of God towards it that almost the entire city collapsed and became a tomb for its inhabitants.  Some of those who were buried and still alive beneath the ground were burned by fire that came out of the earth. Another fire came down out of the air like sparks and burned whomever it touched, like lightningThe earth went on shaking for a year.


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“In the seventh year of his reign, in the month of May, Antioch the Great suffered its fifth calamity from the wrath of God, during the consulship of Olybrius.  Great was the fear of God that occurred then, in that those caught in the earth beneath the buildings were incinerated and sparks of fire appeared out of the air and burned anyone they struck like lightning.


The surface of the earth boiled and foundations of buildings were struck by thunderbolts thrown up by the earthquakes and were burned to ashes by fire, so that even those who fled were met by flames.


It was a tremendous and incredible marvel with fire belching out rain, rain falling from tremendous furnaces, flame dissolving into showers, and showers kindling like flames consumed even those in the earth who were crying out.


As a result Antioch became desolate, for nothing remained apart from some buildings beside the mountain.  No holy chapel nor monastery nor any other holy place remained which had not been torn apart.  Everything had been utterly destroyed.  The great church of Antioch, which had been built by the emperor Constantine the Great, stood for seven days after this tremendous threat from God, when everything else had collapsed to the ground during the wrath of God.  Then it too was overcome by fire and razed to the ground.  Likewise other houses which had not collapsed through the diving calamity were destroyed to their foundations by fire.  


In this terror up to 250,000 people perished.  For this was the great festival of the Ascension of Christ our God and a great throng of visitors had come to town.  During the wrath of God it became clear what a great number of citizens there was.  Many of those who had been buried by earth survived to be brought up alive but then died.  Some of the citizens who survived gathered whatever of their possessions they could and fled.  Peasants attacked them, stole their goods and killed them.  But God’s benevolent chastisement of man was revealed even in this, for all those robbers died violently, some by putrefaction, some were blinded and others died under the surgeon’s knife, and after confessing their sins they gave up their souls. 


Other mysteries of God’s love for man were also revealed.  For pregnant women who had been buried for 20 or even 30 days were brought up from the rubble in good health.  Many, who gave birth underground beneath the rubble, were brought up unharmed with their babies and survived together with the children to whom they had given birth.  Equally other children were brought out alive after 30 days. 


Many even more tremendous things occurred.  On the third day after the collapse, the Holy Cross appeared in the sky in the clouds above the northern district of the city, and all who saw it stayed weeping and praying for an hour.


After the collapse of the city many other earthquakes occurred during the next 18 months.”


The Chronicle of John Malalas

Translated by Elizabeth Jeffreys, Michael Jeffreys, Roger Scott, et. al.  1986

Australian Association of Byzantine Studies

Department of Modern Greek

University of Sydney New South Wales

Pages 239-242






“… a great fire happened at Antioch, and burned much of what remained from the earthquake; but whence the origin of the fire remains unknown.”


Chronicle of Edessa






“There appeared an enormous and frightening star in the west. It was a comet that sent upward its flashing rays. People called it The Torch and it continued to shine for twenty days.  All over the world riots and murders occurred.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“… there occurred a great movement of stars from evening till dawn. Everyone was terrified and said:  'The stars are falling, and we have never seen such a thing as that before.' ”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor


Mike Baillie, in Exodus to Arthur, page 130, citing Clube and Napier, dates this to 524

Clube and Napier, in Cosmic Winter, page 295, citing Ernst Klinkerfues, dates this to 524

Ernst Klinkerfues, in:

On the Great Meteor Shower of the Year 524 AD…

Popular Astronomy #39, page 573, 1931

… this paper by Klinkerfues, cites:

Gottinger Nachtrichten

April 30 1873

pages 275-296

translated by Willard J. Fisher


The edition I used above (Clarendon Press 1997) says that this year was the “Year of the divine Incarnation #524”

But, it says that it was AD 531/532







 28th August


“Stars fell like rain.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A comet was seen.”


History of the Southern Dynasties

entry for February of 533


Sourced from within:

Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

page 365






“There was a sign from the sun, the likes of which had never been seen or reported before.   The sun became dark, and the darkness lasted for 18 months.  Each day, it shone for about 4 hours, but this light was only a feeble shadow.  Everyone declared that the sun would never recover its full brilliance again.


The fruits did not ripen, and the wine tasted like sour grapes.”


Syrian bishop John of Ephesus

Reported in:

Chronicle of Michael the Syrian


Quoted in:

Volcanic Eruptions in the Mediterranean Before AD 630 from Written and Archaeological Sources

R. B. Stothers and M. R. Rampino

Journal of Geophysical Research #88, 1983

pages 6357-6371


Sourced within:

Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

page 214






“At this time, a portent occurred in the sky. For a whole year the sun shone darkly, without rays, like the moon.  Mostly it looked as if it was eclipsed, not shining clearly as was normal.  It was the tenth year of Justinian's rule.  In this time neither war, nor death, stopped weighing upon men.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“And it came about during this year that a most dread portent took place.  For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during this whole year, and it seemed exceedingly like the sun in eclipse, for the beams it shed were not clear nor such as it is accustomed to shed.  And from the time when this thing happened men were free neither from war nor pestilence nor any other thing leading to death.  And it was the time when Justinian was in the tenth year of his reign. [536-537 A.D.]”


History of the Wars


Book 4, chapter 14






 “And the earth with all that is upon it quaked; and the sun began to be darkened by day and the moon by night, while ocean was tumultuous with spray (?) from the 24th of March in this year till the 24th of June in the following year fifteen.”


“And, as the winter was a severe one, so much so that from the large and unwonted quantity of snow the birds perished and . . . , there was distress . . . among men . . . from the evil things. And ... in various countries . . . From the hill of Singara [in the land] of the Persians they took (?)...”


Note from the translator, concerning the second paragraph:


“The manuscript is here very indistinct, and, as Land's text is very incomplete, I give the text which I follow, conjectural supplements being enclosed in square brackets.”


The Syriac Chronicle known as that of Zachariah of Mitylene

Translated into English by F. J. Hamilton, D.D. and E. W. Brooks

M.A. Methuen & Co. 36 Essex street, W.C. London 1899

Book 9, chapter 19

Second quote is from Book 10, chapter 1




November/early-December 535, in South China:


“Yellow dust rained down like snow”.



December 536


“The dust could be scooped up in handfuls.”



February 537


“It rained ‘hui’ (‘dust’ or ‘ashes’), yellow in colour.”


Nan Shi (The History of the Southern Dynasties)

Sourced within:

Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

page 214






“Of late, for several successive years, the crops have produced well; the people take pleasure in their husbandry; my black-headed subjects of every calling are free from famine; benign influences extend agreeably over the universe; cries of admiration fill heaven and earth; within and without, serenity is everywhere; let there be a Great Revel for five days to the delight of the Empire.”




“Food is the basis of the empire.  Yellow gold and ten thousand strings of cash cannot cure hunger.  What avails a thousand boxes of pearls to him who is starving of cold.”


Senka, The Japanese Great King



“This entry is quickly followed by one which outlines how supplies of grain are to be transferred from various districts to other areas.  Grain was to be despatched, for instance, to one district where a granary was to be built:


“… thus making provision against extraordinary occasions and long-preserving the lives of the people.”


The Nihonshoki

Nohongi – Chronicles of Japan from the Earliest Times to AD 697

translated into English by W. G. Aston

published by Charles E. Tuttle, Rutland, Vermont


cited within:

Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

pages 246, 247






“At that time the mountain of Vesuvius rumbled, and though it did not break forth in eruption, still because of the rumbling it led people to expect with great certainty that there would be an eruption. And for this reason it came to pass that the inhabitants fell into great terror.”


History of the Wars


Book 6, chapter 4






“In this year Pompeiopolis in Mysia suffered from divine anger.  The ground was split by the earthquake, and half the city along with its inhabitants was engulfed. They were beneath the earth and their voices could be heard shouting for mercy. The emperor gave generously towards excavating and assisting them and granted gifts to the survivors.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor




535 – April/May


“Because of drought, there was an imperial edict, which ordered that in the capital (Chang’ An), and in all the provinces, commanderies and districts, one should bury the corpses.”


535 – June/July


“[There was] great drought.  [The government] had to provide water at the city gates [of Ch’ang-an] and the hall gates [of the palace] as well as the gates of the government offices.”


536 – September


“In the north-Chinese  ‘provinces of Bian, Si, Zhuo and Jian, hail fell’  and there was  ‘a great famine’.”


536 – December


“… the government had to send special inspectors ‘to investigate [the conditions of] the famished refugees who were roaming around north of the Yellow River’.”


“And in Shaanxi Province, ‘the land within the Passes’, The Annals of the Western Wei  in the Bei Shi  state that there was ‘a great famine’, and that ‘the people practised cannibalism and 70-80 per cent of the population died’.”


537 – March


“… because there had been hail and drought in nine provinces, there was a great famine and as the people fled [in search of food], I begged [the Emperor] that the [state] granaries should be open to give relief.”


538 – Summer


“… in what is now the province of Shandong, there was a massive flood.  The waters rose so high that ‘the toads and frogs were croaking from the trees’.”


Bei Shi (The History of the Northern Dynasties)


Quoted from within:

Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

pages 217, 218




537 – July, August


“ ‘In July in Qingzhou and [another province] there was a fall of frost’  and  ‘in August in Qingzhou there was snow’  which  ‘ruined the crops.’ ”


538 - September


“ ‘Since there had already been deaths from famine,’  there was an amnesty of rents and taxes.”


Nan Shi (The History of the Southern Dynasties)


Quoted from within:

Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

pages 214, 215


“The 538 tax amnesty – introduced in 12 provinces because of famine deaths – was repeated in 541, but this time throughout southern China and for a period of five years.  [It was renewed for another 3 years in 546, and renewed again in 549, then renewed yet again in 551.]”


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

page 219






“There was a failure of bread.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Since the world is not governed by chance, but by a Divine Ruler who does not change His purposes at random, men are alarmed, and naturally alarmed, at the extraordinary signs in the heavens, and ask with anxious hearts what events these may portend.  The Sun, first of stars, seems to have lost his wonted light, and appears of a bluish colour.  We marvel to see no shadows of our bodies at noon, to feel the mighty vigour of his heat wasted into feebleness, and the phenomena which accompany a transitory eclipse prolonged through a whole year.


The Moon too, even when her orb is full, is empty of her natural splendour.  Strange has been the course of the year thus far.  We have had a winter without storms, a spring without mildness, and a summer without heat.  Whence can we look for harvest, since the months which should have been maturing the corn have been chilled by Boreas?  How can the blade open if rain, the mother of all fertility, is denied to it?  These two influences, prolonged frost and unseasonable drought, must be adverse to all things that grow.


The seasons seem to be all jumbled up together, and the fruits, which were wont to be formed by gentle showers, cannot be looked for from the parched earth.  But as last year was one that boasted of an exceptionally abundant harvest, you are to collect all of its fruits that you can, and store them up for the coming months of scarcity, for which it is well able to provide.  And that you may not be too much distressed by the signs in the heavens of which I have spoken, return to the consideration of Nature, and apprehend the reason of that which makes the vulgar gape with wonder.


The middle air is thickened by the rigour of snow and rarefied by the beams of the Sun.  This is the great Inane [void, empty space], roaming between the heavens and the earth.  When it happens to be pure and lighted up by the rays of the sun it opens out its true aspect; but when alien elements are blended with it, it is stretched like a hide across the sky, and suffers neither the true colours of the heavenly bodies to appear nor their proper warmth to penetrate.  This often happens in cloudy weather for a time; it is only its extraordinary prolongation which has produced these disastrous effects, causing the reaper to fear a new frost in harvest, making the apples to harden when they should grow ripe, souring the old age of the grape-cluster.


All this, however, though it would be wrong to construe it as an omen of Divine wrath, cannot but have an injurious effect on the fruits of the earth.  Let it be your care to see that the scarcity of this one year does not bring ruin on us all.  Even thus was it ordained by the first occupant of our present dignity, that the preceding plenty should avail to mitigate the present penury.”


Roman statesman Flavius Cassiodorus

The letters of Cassiodorus.

A condensed translation of the variae epistolae

of Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator.

Translated by Thomas Hodgkin, 1886

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Letters of Cassiodorus

Produced by Robert Connal, Linda Cantoni, and the Online

Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net

Book 7, letter 25

pages 518-520


Mike Baillie, dendrochronologist extraordinaire, in Exodus to Arthur has lengthy notes about the dating of this passage.  Basically, he thinks it’s 537 instead of 538, but there’s more to it than just that.







“A great and terrible comet appeared in the sky at evening-time for one hundred days.”


The Syriac Chronicle known as that of Zachariah of Mitylene

Book 10, chapter 5






“In the 13th year of the reign of Justinian, which was the year 850 [539 AD], indiction deutra (the second), a sign like a spear appeared in heaven on the 5th of Tishrin the former (October).”


Chronicle of Edessa


The Chronicle of Edessa ends in 539.






“At that time also the comet appeared, at first about as long as a tall man, but later much larger. And the end of it was toward the west and its beginning toward the east, and it followed behind the sun itself. For the sun was in Capricorn and it was in Sagittarius.


And some called it "the swordfish" because it was of goodly length and very sharp at the point, and others called it "the bearded star"; it was seen for more than forty days.


Now those who were wise in these matters disagreed utterly with each other, and one announced that one thing, another that another thing was indicated by this star; but I only write what took place and I leave to each one to judge by the outcome as he wishes.”


History of the Wars


Book 2, chapter 4






“In the year of grace AD 541, there appeared a comet in Gaul, so vast that the whole sky seemed on fire.  In the same year, there dropped real blood from the clouds, and a dreadful mortality ensued.”


Flowers of History

Roger of Wendover

Translated from the Latin by J. A. Giles D.C.L.

Henry G. Bohn, London, 1849






“In this year, in October of the 5th indiction the great plague broke out in Byzantium.  In the same period the feast of the Presentation of the Lord was first celebrated in Byzantium on 2 February.  On 16 August of the same 5th indiction, a great earthquake occurred in Constantinople, and churches, houses, and the city wall collapsed, especially the part near the Golden Gate.  The spear held by the statue which stands in the Forum of the holy Constantine fell down, as well as the right arm of the statue of the Xerolophos.  Many died and there was great fear.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“The 18-month-long darkening of the sun which was reported by Roman historians including Procopius in Constantinople in 536 is not referred to as such in any British or English sources – but there is a bizarre reference to two total solar eclipses in entries for two nearby dates – 538 and 540 – in the eighth-century English historian Bede’s chronological ‘synopses’ at the end of his History of the English Church and People


These two entries say that in 538 ‘an eclipse of the sun occurred on the 16th of February lasting from Prime [dawn] to Terce [two hours later]’ and that in 540 ‘an eclipse of the sun occurred on the 20th of June, and the stars appeared for nearly half an hour after the hour of Terce’.


Bede started his chronological summary in 60 BC and ended it in AD 731.  During that period there were 13 total eclipses visible from Britain, and up to 28 more which were visible from Italy and the eastern Mediterranean – and yet only two that were out of living memory in Bede’s time were included by him.  And those two – the 538 and 540 eclipses – weren’t even visible, as easily noticeable (i.e. total) eclipses, from England.


He makes no mention of the total eclipses that would have thrown England into darkness in AD 19, 118, 129, 158, 183, 228, 319, 393, 413, 458, 594, and 639.  And he makes no reference to the much larger number of similar events in Italy and the east Mediterranean – except for 538 and 540.  He even ignores all the Italian and east-Mediterranean total eclipses (603, 656, 655, and 693) which were closer in time to him than 540.”


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

page 148




537  ->  541


“In the year 848 of the Syrian Era [A.D.  537] an event occurred that is beyond belief.  Had I not known about it from many different writings, I myself would not have included it.  The sun was eclipsed for 18 months.  For three hours in the morning it would give light, but a light that resembled neither day nor night.  During that year fruit did not reach the point of maturity, and all the land became as though transformed into something half alive, or like someone suffering from a long illness. 


An unprecedented plague ensued (541-542) which began in Constantinople where the first day 5,000 people died, the next day 10,000, the third 15,000, the fourth 18,000—figures reported by the auditors that the emperor had placed at the gates of the city.  They counted up to 300,000 people dead and then left off counting.  The epidemic first attacked the poor class of the population, then the merchants and the nobility including the Imperial Palace.  The trouble began with a wound that formed in the palm of the hand, and progressed until the afflicted one could not take a step.  The legs swelled, then the buboes burst and pus came out.  The city began to stink [from the unburied corpses] and so the bodies were thrown into the sea, but the bodies kept resurfacing.  The emperor ordered that 40 dahegans be paid to people who would carry a corpse out of town, but often the bearers themselves fell dead in the street.  Furthermore, it even happened that someone would enter a deserted house and gather up its treasures to steal, but would end up dying at the door, on the way out.  The plague spread to Egypt where one city was wiped out [in this manner]: only seven men and a boy remained alive there.  As they wandered around the city, suddenly the seven men died on the spot.  Then the lad saw the angel of God in the guise of an old man.  Seeing the child weeping, the angel removed him from the city and said: "Go now and weep not, for this punishment is the payment for heresy and sin.”  ” 


Chronicle of Michael the Syrian

page 113




“In the summer of 541 AD a deadly infectious disease broke out in the Egyptian port city of Pelusium, located on the eastern edge of the Nile delta.  It quickly spread eastward along the coast of Gaza and westward to Alexandria.  By the following spring it had found its way to Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire.  Syria, Anatolia, Greece, Italy, Gaul, Iberia and North Africa: none of the lands bordering the Mediterranean escaped it.  Here and there, if followed river valleys or overland routes and thus penetrated far into the interior, reaching, for example, as far east as Persia or as far north, after another sea-crossing, as the British Isles.


The disease remained virulent in these lands for slightly more than two centuries, although it never settled anywhere for long.  Instead, it came and went, and as is frequently the case with unwelcome visitors, its appearances were unannounced.  Overall, there was not a decade in the course of two centuries when it was not inflicting death somewhere in the Mediterranean region.  In those places where it appeared several times, the intervals between recurrences ranged from about six to twenty years.  And then, in the middle of the eight century, it vanished with as little ceremony as when it first arrived.


Thus did bubonic plague make its first appearance on the world historical scene.  Diagnosis of historical illnesses on the basis of descriptions in ancient texts can rarely be made with compelling certainty because all infectious diseases involve fever and the other symptoms tend not to be exclusive to particular diseases.  Plague, however, is a major exception because of the unmistakable appearance of buboes on most of its victims, those painful swellings of the lymph nodes that appear in the groin, in the armpit, or on the neck just below the ear.  Taken together, the dozens of epidemics of this disease that broke out throughout the Mediterranean basin and its hinterlands between the mid-500’s and mid-700’s constitute the first historically documented pandemic of plague, the first of three.


…  The lawyer Agathias undertook to continue the history of Procopius.  He says that after 544 when plague ceased in Constantinople, it had never really stopped but simply moved on from place to place, until it returned to the city almost as though it had been cheated on the first occasion into a needlessly hasty departure.  This was the spring of 558, when “a second outbreak of plague swept the capital, destroying a vast number of people.” The form the epidemic took was not unlike that of the earlier outbreak.  A swelling in the glands in the groin was accompanied by a high fever that raged night and day with unabated intensity and never left its victim until the moment of death.  Another testimony in Greek came from the Antiochene lawyer Evagrius “Scholasticus.” Plague broke out in 594 while he was at work on his Ecclesiastical History, and in a passage of that book he notes that this was the fourth episode of the plague in his experience, going back to 542 when the disease first arrived in Antioch and he himself, then six years old, suffered from its fevers and swellings.  In each of the later outbreaks he lost servants and family members, including most recently a daughter and a grandson.  We need emphasize that all three of these leading Greek sources, Procopius, Agathias, and Evagrius, were knowledgeable about earlier epidemics, yet clearly stressed the dreadful newness of the epidemics that started in 542.”


Plague and the End of Antiquity: The Pandemic of 541-750

Lester K. Little

Cambridge University Press, 2007

Introduction on page 3

Last paragraph = page 9





“During (Justinian’s) rule over the Romans, many disasters of various kinds occurred: which some said were due to the presence and artifices of the Devil, and others considered were effected by the Divinity, Who, disgusted with the Roman Empire, had turned away from it and given the country up to the Old One. The Scirtus River flooded Edessa, creating countless sufferings among the inhabitants, as I have elsewhere written. The Nile, rising as usual, but not subsiding in the customary season, brought terrible calamities to the people there, as I have also previously recounted. The Cydnus inundated Tarsus, covering almost the whole city for many days, and did not subside until it had done irreparable damage.


Earthquakes destroyed Antioch, the leading city of the East; Seleucia, which is situated nearby; and Anazarbus, most renowned city in Cilicia. Who could number those that perished in these metropoles? Yet one must add also those who lived in Ibora; in Amasea, the chief city of Pontus; in Polybotus in Phrygia, called Polymede by the Pisidians; in Lychnidus in Epirus; and in Corinth: all thickly inhabited cities from of old.  All of these were destroyed by earthquakes during this time, with a loss of almost all their inhabitants. And then came the plague, which I have previously mentioned, killing half at least of those who had survived the earthquakes.  To so many men came their doom, when Justinian first came to direct the Roman state and later possessed the throne of autocracy.”



“The nature of the third levy was briefly as follows: Many losses, especially at this time, were suffered by the cities, whose causes and extents I refrain from describing now, or the tale would be endless. These losses the landowners had to repair, by special assessment on each individual; and their troubles did not even stop there. The pestilence, which had attacked the inhabited world, did not spare the Roman Empire. Most of its farmers had perished of it, so that their lands were deserted; nevertheless Justinian did not exempt the owners of these properties. Their annual taxes were not remitted, and they had to pay not only their own, but their deceased neighbours’ share. And in addition to all of this, these land-poor wretches had to quarter the soldiers in their best rooms, while they themselves during this time existed in the meanest and poorest part of their dwellings.”



A Secret History

translated by Richard Atwater

Chicago: P. Covici, 1927; New York: Covici Friede, 1927

reprinted @ Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1961





(563-594 minus ~25)?


“Important glacial ice-core evidence comes from the mountain fastness of western South America.  The 18,700-foot-high Quelccaya glacier – a vast ‘carpet’ of ice on top of part of the central Andes – has provided scientists with data which suggests that drought-induced dust storms were raging in Peru from around 540 to around 570.


Scientists from Ohio State University climbed to the top of the glacier in 1983 and, using solar power, sank a drill deep into the ice.  With the equipment they succeeded in extracting two roughly 530-foot-long ice-cores, the water from which was then studied in detail under laboratory conditions.  The raw data showed that the ice, between 563 and 594 (- 25 years), was riddled with drought-induced dust, suggesting a 30-year long drought – the most sudden and intense in Andean and possibly South American history.


But glacial ice-cores are often inaccurate in terms of chronology especially at substantial time depth.  Compression of the ice can lead to some layers (perhaps as much as one or two years per century) not being counted.  Up to 25 years can potentially therefore be added to the (time since) the drought, thus pushing it back to 530 or 540.  Significantly, the abrupt cooling revealed by Chilean and Argentine tree rings can be precisely dated to exactly 540.  It is therefore possible that the Peruvian ice-core dust and the Chilean and Argentinian cooling are both manifestations of the same sixth-century climatic catastrophe.”


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

pages 356, 357




The last monumental structure built at Teotihuacan, was the Temple of the Feathered Serpent (currently dated to around 300 AD), with 260 people sacrificed and buried under the temple, the largest such sacrifice in the city:


Description: Spooky feathered serpent at Teotihuacan 





“Up until three years ago (late 1990’s), the virtual depopulation and demise of this vast ancient city was believed to have taken place in the eighth century AD, but a recent total reassessment of the evidence has now led archaeologists to re-date the collapse to 150 years earlier – to the sixth century AD!


Academics have re-dated the end of Teotihuacan as a result of recent ceramic studies, supported by some radio-carbon dates (usually plus or minus 50 years or so), and to a much lesser extent by some dates produced by an even less exact system known as obsidian hydration dating.”


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

pages 274, 445



Dating results from Excavations in Quarry Tunnels Behind the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan

Ancient Mesoamerica, number 7, Autumn, 1996

Linda Manzanilla, Claudia Lopez, AnnCorinne Freter




“In 536 AD, there was a moment of sudden environmental change in the basin of Mexico.  Exciting new research suggests that this could have been a key factor in pushing the Teotihuacano to the brink of disaster.  It was the biggest volcanic eruption ever recorded in Central America.


The Ilopango volcano was in modern-day El Salvador.  Even though it was almost 800 miles away, the ash and gas that spewed out from the eruption clouded the skies over Teotihuacan.  With no heat and light from the sun, the crops failed repeatedly, which had grave consequences for their leaders.


In the middle of the 6th century AD, the people of Teotihuacan rose up.  They targeted the symbolic heart of the city and set it alight.  David Carballo, was part of the team that retrieved charred remains of the wooden temple structures that lined the avenue of the dead.  Burnt roof-structures give a sense of the drama, of like, things on fire, ending in quite a dramatic way, do you think that’s true?


“Certainly for the central part of the city.  It seems like very selective concerted burning within temples and palace complexes all around the street of the dead.”


That whole street, then, would have been on fire at the same time, you imagine.


“Perhaps, yes, it seems like a planned burning event.  It was a symbolic termination of the civic architecture, basically.


We have to consider Teotihuacan as a successful state, in that it survived for 5 to 6 centuries, as possibly the largest place in the Americas, and one of the largest cities.  But, there certainly were some challenges in the 6th century, that the governing apparatus seems to not have been able to overcome.  What exactly it was that it couldn’t evolve to, is still a question to be answered.”


A population of 100,000 eventually dwindled to 20,000 people.  It would take hundreds of years for the significance of this city to be rediscovered, by another great civilization, when the Aztecs discovered this vast abandoned city.  They believed it could only have been the work of giants, even gods.  When they arrived, it had no name.  They called it Teotihuacan, The Place when Time Began.”


Lost Kingdoms Of Central America

episode 4: Teotihuacan: The Place Where Time Began

BBC 2014

Jago Cooper interviewing David M. Carballo:

Associate Professor of Archaeology, Anthropology, and Latin American Studies

@ Boston University




“The placid Lake Ilopango is the caldera of the Ilopango volcanic complex, which in 539 or 540 A.D.  produced one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 7,000 years.  The lake was also present then; as lava boiled the water into steam, the eruption became even more explosive.


The eruption devastated local Maya settlements and caused crop failures around the world.


The ices of Greenland and Antarctica bear the fingerprints of a monster: a gigantic volcanic eruption in 539 or 540 A.D.  that killed tens of thousands and helped trigger one of the worst periods of global cooling in the last 2,000 years.  Now, after years of searching, a team of scientists has finally tracked down the source of the eruption.


The team’s work, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, lays out new evidence that ties the natural disaster to Ilopango, a now-dormant volcano in El Salvador.  Researchers estimate that in its sixth-century eruption, Ilopango expelled the equivalent of 10.5 cubic miles of dense rock, making it one of the biggest volcanic events on Earth in the last 7,000 years.  The blast was more than a hundred times bigger than the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption and several times larger than the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.  It dealt the local Maya settlements a blow that forever altered their trajectory.


“This is the largest eruption in Central America that human beings have ever witnessed,” says lead study author Robert Dull, a geologist at California Lutheran University.  “The importance of the event is even greater, both how the Maya overcame it and how it impacted what happened next.”


The new work helps solve a longtime geologic mystery.  Historical accounts that date to 536 describe a dark fog that dimmed the sun and ushered in a wave of crop deaths.  Until recently, scholars were open to the idea that these clouds were the remains of an asteroid or comet.  But modern data confirms that the event was volcanic—and that it was two volcanoes up to four years apart, not just one.”


Colossal volcano behind 'mystery' global cooling finally found

Michael Greshko

National Geographic's science desk








 [The Marib Dam, in Yemen] “… was not one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – but it probably should have been.  It was one of the largest and most spectacular feats of civil engineering achieved by humanity in pre-modern times.  The main dam was 53 high, 2046 feet long and at least 200 feet wide at the base.  Its main job was to concentrate flood waters so that they reached a particular height and could be channelled through two main sluices into a 3700-foot-long canal and thence through 15 secondary sluices and 121 tertiary sluices into a massive irrigation system consisting of hundreds of miles of canals.  In total, the complex irrigated 24000 acres and supported a population of between 30,000 and 50,000 people.


…  The world-wide climatic chaos of the mid to late 530’s, 540’s, and 550’s seems to have produced not only drought but occasional rain storms of extreme severity.  One of these freak deluges produced such massive quantities of water that, some time in the 540’s, the great Marib Dam gave way for the first time in 100 years.


The event was recorded in a royal inscription, and a workforce from all over Yemen had to be raised to repair it, so serious was the damage.  Archaeological work at the site suggests that the force of the flood was unprecedented.  Certainly the authorities took unprecedented measures to try to stop it happening again.  For the first time ever, large blocks of stone were used to reinforce the dam.


For the ten years following the 540’s dam-burst, geomorphological investigations at the dam have revealed what appears to have been a massively increased level of silt deposition.  In one part of the basin sediment levels rose 30 feet in a decade.  Although parts of the basin concerned are different and therefore not fully comparable, it is by contrast striking that in the 100 or so years between a breaking of the dam in c. 450 and the breakage in the 540’s, only 16 feet of silts were deposited; and indeed in the previous 90 years (before 450) just 23 feet (of sediment) had been laid down.


Other irrigation systems in Yemen may also have been damaged or abandoned at roughly the same time.  In the Wadi Markhah in central Yemen, (Swiss scholar Ueli Brunner) had identified, since 1992, at least half a dozen settlements, including four small towns which appear to have become deserted in the 500’s or 600’s.  Abandonment is even recorded in Arab tradition, which maintains that many people left Wadi Markhah to take part in the early Islamic expansion.  One group that, according to local tradition, did not leave are still known today as the al-Nisiyin – the forgotten people.  Another area, Wadi Jawi in northern Yemen, has at least a dozen deserted settlements, most of which were also probably abandoned in the 500’s or 600’s.”


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

pages 82-83 + chapter note


The inscription for the dam-burst in the 540’s is designated CIH541 – King Abraha


The work of Ueli Brenner mentioned is from:

Die Erforshung der Antiken Oase von Marib

Mit Hilse Geomorphologischen

unter Suchungs Methoden

(volume 2 of Archaeologische Berichte aus Dem Yemen)

published by Philipp von Zabern, Mainz, in 1983



Here is an excerpt from this, the most major report of the Marib Dam failure, dated to 542:




“With the power, the aid, and the mercy of Raḥmann, of his Messiah and of the Holy Spirit.


… The appeal to come to the aid of Saba’ reached him [Abraha, the King] when the dam, the anchoring wall and the sluice gates of the large water distribution system (?) were destroyed….


… Then the king sent a summons to the tribes to seal up [the breaches], collect earth, make the facing in dressed stones, to construct in masonry, make a facing in trimmed polished stone (?) apply the plaster, restore to a sound state the dam, the anchoring wall and the damage that had been done at Marib.


He fixed a rendezvous with them for the month ḏ-Ṣrbn of the year seven. After he had sent out the summons and the bedouins submitted themselves, he returned to the city of Marib and celebrated Mass in the church of the Marib because there was a priest there, the father of the community (?).  From there he took charge of the dam and dug until he reached bedrock and excavated the rock to put in the foundations of the anchoring wall. After they had laid the foundations of the anchoring wall the plague arrived among the tribes and in the city.


… After the plague had subsided thanks to Raḥmann, the tribes descended in accordance with his first summons which he had made at their second rendezvous. The tribes arrived during the last ḏ-Dʾwn.  After the tribes had sent him their wheat, they repaired what had been destroyed of the anchoring wall… … He disbursed from the day in which he took charge of this task until the celebration of the Mass in the church (the setting to rights of the) anchoring wall and of the dam, fifty thousand eight hundred and six (?) (measures) of flour, twenty-six thousand (measures) of dates in measures of Ydʿʾl; the meat of three thousand heads of cattle and cows, seven thousand two hundred heads of small cattle, three hundred camel (loads) of drink (of date wine (?), of wine made of raisins (?)) eleven thousand measures (amphoras ?) of date wine (?). He had completed his work in fifty- eight days and he returned after eleven months.”


Corpus Of Late Sabaic Inscriptions

Digital Archive for the Study of Pre-Islamic Arabian Inscriptions

CIH 541 Sadd Maʾrib 5




538 or 544


“In the year when Ciaran the son of the Carpenter died, the same year when Tuathal Maelgariv was killed and the year when Diarmait the son of Cerrbel became King of all Ireland, the year 538 of our era in short [or possibly 544], it happened that there was a great gathering of the men of Ireland at the Hill of Uisneach in Royal Meath.


In addition to the Council which was being held, there were games and tournaments and brilliant deployments of troops, and universal feastings and enjoyments. The gathering lasted for a week, and on the last day of the week Mongan was moving through the crowd with seven guards, his story-teller Cairidè, and his wife.


It had been a beautiful day, with brilliant sunshine and great sport, but suddenly clouds began to gather in the sky to the west, and others came rushing blackly from the east. When these clouds met the world went dark for a space, and there fell from the sky a shower of hailstones, so large that each man wondered at their size, and so swift and heavy that the women and young people of the host screamed from the pain of the blows they received.


Mongan's men made a roof of their shields, and the hailstones battered on the shields so terribly that even under them they were afraid. They began to move away from the host looking for shelter, and when they had gone apart a little way they turned the edge of a small hill and a knoll of trees, and in the twinkling of an eye they were in fair weather.


One minute they heard the clashing and bashing of the hailstones, the howling of the venomous wind, the screams of women and the uproar of the crowd on the Hill of Uisnach, and the next minute they heard nothing more of those sounds and saw nothing more of these sights, for they had been permitted to go at one step out of the world of men and into the world of Faery.”


Irish Fairy Tales

James Stephens

MaCmillan, London, 1920

“Mongan’s Frenzy” – Chapter 3


Sourced from:

The Celtic Gods

Comets in Irish Mythology

Patrick McCafferty and Mike Baillie

Tempus, 2005

page 167

(much more information in their chapter on Mongan)





 22nd October


“During the siege of Yu-pi (probably Pi-tcheou in Sse-tchouen), a star fell in the camp of the besiegers.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“In the first year of the T'ai Ts'ing era (547 A.  D.) there was again a dragon fight in the waters of Li cheu.  The waves seethed and bubbled up, and clouds and fog assembled from all sides.  White dragons were seen running to the South, followed by black dragons.  That year Heu King came with troops to submit, and the Emperor accepted his submission without taking precautions.  The people of the realm were all frightened, and suddenly rebellion arose.  The Emperor in consequence thereof had a sad death".


“He died in 549, and eight years later the Liang dynasty came to an end.”


The Dragon in China and Japan

pages 46-47


Citing the Books of the Sui dynasty


Sourced from:

Exodus to Arthur

Catastrophic Encounters with Comets

Mike Baillie, 1999






“In this year there was much terrifying thunder and lightning, so that many were struck by lightning while they slept. On St John's day the thunder and lightning were so terrible that part of the column of the Xerolophos was sliced off, as was the carved capital of the same column.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“There appeared a shooting star 300 feet long; she fell in the place of Wou (Wou-kiun).”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“In the northern-Chinese Bei Shi, a major drought is cited for 548, while The History of the Southern Dynasties records extremely serious droughts and subsequent famines in 549 and 550, in which the population was literally reduced to cannibalism in some areas.  The accounts say that in the famine of 549 when corpses must have been plentiful ‘people ate each other’ in the great city of Jiujiang (now Jiangzhou) on the south bank of the Yangtze; and in 550 ‘from spring until summer there was a great drought, people ate one another and in the capital [modern Nanjing] it was especially serious’.”


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

page 221






“Until now, historians have come to believe that the end of the Gupta Empire, which reigned over what is now called India’s Golden Age from around AD 300 till about AD 550, was caused by socio-economic factors.  The decline of the Guptas also severely impacted a flourishing Buddhism, relegating it to the background for several centuries in the country.


Archaeologist Shanker Sharma has now provided evidence to show that almost every significant archaeological site in Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh reveals silt deposits ranging from 0.6 meters to 2.5 meters, suggesting that the area was hit by disastrous floods.  Balirajgarh (Madhubani), Kolhua, Raja Vishal Ka Garh and Chechar (Vaishali), Titra (Siwan), Chirand (Saran), Panr (Samastipur), Kumhrar (Patna), Champa (Bhagalpur), Kushinagar and Siddharthnagar (both in Uttar Pradesh) are some of such sites.


“My research picked up pace after I visited Balirajgarh in Madhubani district, a site that has been partially excavated so far by the ASI in 2014.  The site had a 7-metre-high fortification without any gap and people in the ancient times accessed it through a ramp.  To my surprise, silt had crossed such high ramparts and around 1.7 meters of it was deposited inside.  Just imagine how high the floods would have been to cause it and what would have happened to human settlements outside the fortification,” Sharma told The Telegraph.


Similarly, the Kolhua stupa site in Vaishali district shows silt deposits of 1 meter to 1.5 meters, while the Chaumukhi Mahadev site in the same district had silt deposits of 2.5 meters.  Panr site in Samastipur had a deposit of over 1 meter.  There is evidence of high silt deposits at Kumhrar site in Patna too.


There was no cultural occupation (proper civilization) at the sites for several hundred years after.  The populated areas were deserted.  The growth achieved in the second urbanization that had started in this region around 600 BC, centuries after the first urbanization brought by the Harappan civilization, was completely lost,” Sharma said.


The archaeologist also asserted that the deluge dealt “a death blow to the Gupta Empire” that gathered its strength from Bihar region and ruled over a vast stretch from eastern India to northern and western India.


Explaining the sudden decline of Buddhism around that time, Sharma said none of the Buddhist sites such as Kesaria, Lauria Nandangarh, Rampurva, Lauria Areraj and others survived the devastating flood.”


 Deluge drowned mighty Guptas: Study

The Telegraph. Kolkota

24 Feb 2019










“Enoshima Island is located in Sagami Bay, which is bounded by the Miura Peninsula on the east and the Izu Peninsula on the west. Four (tectonic) plates meet in this area: the Philippines plate, the Eurasian plate, the North American plate and the Pacific plate. This is one of the most seismically active areas on earth, and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.”


A Study of the Enoshima Engi

Robert A. Juhl

Careful translation and extensive notes





A Japanese monk, Kokei, writing in 1047, concerning records compiled in 712 and 720, of spectacular and dreadful wonders beheld at and around the area of Enoshima Island, culminating in the event of 552 AD:


“The island of Enoshima, which is part of the land of Sagami of the Tokaido (Eastern Sea Route) district of Great Japan, was created by deities of the eight classes.  This island is sacred to the goddess Benzaiten.


A careful investigation into the antecedents of Enoshima island, reveals that there once was a large lake, with a perimeter of 40 li  (~14-23 km), lying between Kamakura and Umitsuki county on the borders between the three lands of Boshu, Musashi, and Sagami.  The lake was called Fukasawa (“deep swamp”). 


The surrounding hills were reflected in the billowing waters of this body of water.  Clouds and mist filled the valleys and wolf-dogs roamed the hills.  When a person happened to appear at the lake, dank breezes brushed the treetops and white wolves howled on its banks.  Therefore, signs of human presence were absent at its shores.


A fierce, evil dragon, a dragon-king with five heads on one body, frequently made this lake its lair.  This dragon had a prominent snout, whiskers on its chin, its eyes emitted piercing rays like the sun at daybreak, and its torso was surrounded by black clouds.


During the seven-hundred-year period from the time of the Emperor Jinmu (traditional dates 660-585 BC) to the time of Emperor Suinin (29 BC-70 AD), the evil dragon, accompanied by the spirit of the wind, demons, mountain spirits, and other spirits, wreaked calamities throughout the land.  Mountains and hills crumbled, releasing floods and causing damage resulting in plagues and revolts.


During the 60-year reign of Emperor Keikou (71-130 AD), the 12th emperor, the evil dragon constantly made fire [or torrential rains] and rain descend on the eastern lands [roughly today's Kanto region].  Consequently, the people made their homes in stone caves.

[An alternate version of this same bit:

At the time of Emperor Keikou (71-130 AD), the evils caused by the dragon increased.  Hailstones fell, killing people.  At the time, many people had to hide in stone caverns.  It is related that in winter they lived in holes and in summer in trees, like the way people lived in the most ancient times.


At the time of the Emperor Anko (453-456 AD), the 21st emperor, the dragon and its demons relied on Minister En to cause troubles.  At the time of the Emperor Buretsu (498-506 AD), the dragon and its demons relied on Minister Kanamura to foment disorder and revolts.


At this time, the five-headed dragon first appeared at the water gate of Tsumura Village in the valley of South Hill (the hill south of the lake) and began to devour children.  From that time named this place Hatsukuhisawa ("Swamp Where the Dragon First Began to Devour People") and called the steep hills to the west Eno.  This swamp was the water gate to the waters of the lake and an estuary of the Southern Sea [Sagami Bay].


A village elder lived at the base of the valley.  He had 16 children, all of whom were swallowed by the poisonous dragon.  Grieving and anguishing, he left his old home to move to a location to the west, which was then called "Elder's Mound."


The evil dragon then spread out through the villages, swallowing and devouring children.  Terrified, the villagers forsook their homes to move elsewhere.  The people of that time named the new location Koshigoe.


By this time the dragon's swallowing of people had taken place throughout the eight lands [of the Kanto region in Eastern Japan].  Children whose parents had been swallowed grieved, and parents whose children had been swallowed lamented.  The sounds of weeping and wailing continued without ceasing throughout the villages.  Children were left without mothers and husbands without wives.


Thereupon, the people of the eight lands, high-born and low-born, came together to discuss what to do.  It was decided to offer a [female] child in sacrifice to the dragon.  The wailing and lamentations of the people, high-born and low-born, continued without ceasing.



In the 13th year (552 A.D.  by traditional dating) of the reign of Emperor Kinmei, dark clouds covered the sea at the watergate (entrance) to the lake from the estuary of the Southern Sea (Sagami Bay) at Eno.  The clouds lasted from around 8:00 pm of the 12th day to 8:00 am of the 23rd day of the fourth month.  Large earthquakes shook the earth day and night.


Then the goddess appeared above the clouds, with servants at her left and right.  The myriad spirits — dragon-spirits, the spirits of water, fire, thunder, and lightning, as well as mountain spirits, ghosts, spirits of the dead, and demons — made great boulders descend from above the clouds and rocks and sand spurt up from the bottom of the sea.  Lightning bolts flashed, and flames flickered amidst the white-tipped waves.


On the 23rd day of the month at the hour of the dragon (around 8:00 am) the clouds disappeared, the haze dispersed, and an island was seen to have emerged in the sea amidst the blue waves — a new mount made by the spirits.


Twelve cormorants descended to perch on the island.  This is why it then was also dubbed "Island to Which Cormorants Come".


Displaying her exquisite, brilliant charms, the goddess descended into the Golden Grotto.  It was none other than Benzaiten, the third daughter of the dragon-king of Munetsuchi, manifesting herself in the flesh.

An alternate version of this same bit:

Manifesting herself in the flesh, the goddess, the third daughter of the benevolent dragon-king of Munetsuchi, the elder sister of Lord Enma (also Yama), ruler of Hades, the younger sister of [Dragon-]King Baso, descended upon that island.  Adorned with a long jade pendant and a blood-red ornament, and making a strumming [or slapping] sound, she shined like the autumn moon enveloped in mist and sparkled like spring flowers dripping with dew.


Upon seeing the charms of the heavenly goddess, the five-headed dragon of the lake wanted to tell her of his deepest desire.  Riding the waves, he came to the island and sought to tell her of his love.


The goddess replied, "I have made a pledge of compassion and pity [for all creatures].  But you mercilessly and rapaciously end their lives.  In body and heart we are complete opposites.  And that is all the more reason that your desire makes no sense!"


The dragon spoke, "I will follow your teachings.  From now on, I will refrain forever from harboring a heart set on destruction and from harming living beings.  Instead, I ask you to make me compassionate, able to follow and carry out your will."


The goddess then consented.  Thereupon, the dragon pledged to follow her teachings and faced south, becoming a large hill.  The people of that time named the hill "Tatsu-no-kuchi-yama" (Dragon's Mouth Hill).  It was also called "Benevolent Spirit-Guardian of the Dead Children." 


This is the island transformed and created by the goddess Benzaiten, using her expedient powers [to lead beings to the truth] in order to save sentient beings from the savagery and evil of the dragon.  As a goddess who manifested herself as a savior, she is thus known as the beneficial spirit enshrined at Enoshima.”


A Study of the Enoshima Engi

Robert A. Juhl

Careful translation and extensive notes






 Around December


“A star fell in Ou-kiun, capital of the province of Ou (Sou-tcheou-fou).”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“In A. D. 553 a dragon was seen ascending near the Imperial Palace, and the next year a huge black serpent rose from the Palace moat to the sky, spreading a dazzling light and followed by a small snake.  Calamity was predicted on account of these apparitions, and the Emperor tried to avert the evil by offerings of moneys, magic, Buddhist prayers and philanthropy; but it was all in vain, for at the end of the same year he was killed.”


The Dragon in China and Japan

page 53






“The last inscription that mentions the great Marib dam is … … dated in the year 668 of the Himyarite era (= 553 A.D.).  The authors of the text were again engaged, under great exertion, in removing the mud deposits at the dam.”


The Encyclopedia of Islam

Volume 6, fascicules 107-108

Pages 563-564


Corpus Of Late Sabaic Inscriptions

Digital Archive for the Study of Pre-Islamic Arabian Inscriptions

Ja 547+Ja 546+Ja 544+Ja 545 Sadd Maʾrib 6






“Brenainn of Birra was seen ascending in a chariot into the sky this year.”


Annals of the Four Masters





 Around November


“While imperial troops of Tcheou were besieging Kiang-ling (actually King-tcheou-fou in Hou-kouang), a star fell in the city.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A great mortality this year, i.e. in chron Chonaill (in buide Chonaill).”


The Annals of Ulster






“Fire appeared in the sky in the shape of a spear, from north to west.  On Monday 16 April, there was a frightening earthquake that caused no damage.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






The twelve books of the Syriac chronicle of Zachariah of Mitylene are complete up to book 9, which covers events up to 536 AD.  After this, the works are fragmentary.  From book 12, set 20 years after 536, chapter 5, entitled The Fifth Chapter Treats Of The Powder, Consisting Of Ashes, Which Fell From Heaven:


“In addition to all the evil and fearful things described above and recorded below, the earthquakes and famines and wars in divers places, and the abundance of iniquity and the deficiency of love and faith, which have happened and are happening, there has also been fulfilled against us and against this last generation the curse of Moses in Deuteronomy, when he admonished the people who had come out of Egypt, when they were just about to enter the land of promise, and said to them, "If thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt not observe and do all His statutes and His commandments, which I command thee this day, all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee";  and a little further on he speaks thus: "The Lord shall give for the rain of thy land powder; and dust from heaven shall He send down upon thee, until He destroy thee.  And He shall smite thee before thine enemies; and thy carcass shall be meat unto the fowls of heaven and unto the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no man to fray them away." 


Such fearful things and more fearful things are coming; for in the year four, on the first Sabbath, which is the Sabbath before the feast of unleavened bread, the heavens above us were covered with stormy (?) clouds, brought by the east winds, and instead of the usual rain and moistening water dropped upon the earth a powder composed of ashes and dust by the commandment of God.  And it showed itself upon stones and fell upon walls; and discerning men were in fear and trepidation and anxiety, and instead of the joy of the Passover they were in sorrow, because all the things that are written had been fulfilled against us on account of our sins.  Now it was the twenty-eighth year of this king.”


The Syriac Chronicle known as that of Zachariah of Mitylene

Book 12, chapter 5






“In this year, on Friday 19 October of the 6th indiction there was a great earthquake, just as Saturday was dawning.  On 14 December, there was another very frightening earthquake, which damaged the two walls of Constantinople, both the Constantinian and the one built by Theodosios. In particular, there collapsed churches and the area beyond the Hebdomon, namely St Samuel, the Holy Mother of God of Petalas, St Vincent, and many church altars and ciboria between the Golden Gate and Rhesion.  


There was no place or suburban estate which did not suffer damage from the terrible threat of the earthquake.  


Rhegion suffered so badly that it was unrecognizable.  The churches of St Stratonikos and of St Kallinikos, both in Rhegion, collapsed to the ground.  The porphyry column, which stood in front of the palace of Iucundianae with the statue on top of it, collapsed and was driven eight feet into the ground.  The statue of the emperor, Arkadios, which stood to the left of the arch of the Tauros, also fell.


There were many casualties in the collapsed buildings, though some were rescued even two or three days after they had been trapped in the ruins.


It was reported that the same thing had happened in other cities.


No man in that generation on earth could remember so great and terrible an earthquake. For the love of man the earth continued to shake by day and night for ten days, and for a while men went on litanies out of contrition, but after experiencing God's love, they lapsed again to worse habits.


The emperor did not wear his crown for forty days, and even on the holy birth of Christ he processed to church without it.  He also stopped the customary luncheons in the hall of the Nineteen Couches and gave the money saved from this to the poor. 


In February a bubonic plague broke out, particularly among the young, so that the living were too few to bury the dead. The plague raged from February till July.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“There was a great running of stars from evening until morning, so that everyone was greatly terrified, and exclaimed: “the stars are falling.’”


Historiarum Compendium

Georgii Cedreni

Hist. Byz. Sc. Corp. tom. 7, p. 304.


Cited in Contributions towards a History of the Star-Showers of Former Times

pages 353-355




563 - October


“In October of this year, a riot among the people occurred in the quarter of Pittakia, and the emperor punished a great many.  In November there was a drought and water became scarce, resulting in many fights around the fountains.  (Since) August a north wind had blown and none from the south. Ships could not reach Constantinople so Eutychios, the patriarch, ordered a litany to [the quarter of) Jerusalem, that is to St Diomedes.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor


563 - October

Lake Geneva:


“Now a great prodigy appeared in the Gauls at the town of Tauredunum, situated on the river Rhone.  After a sort of rumbling had continued for more than sixty days, the mountain was finally torn away and separated from another mountain near it, together with men, churches, property and houses, and fell into the river, and the banks of the river were blocked and the water flowed back.  For that place was shut in on either side by mountains and the torrent flowed in a narrow way.  It overflowed above and engulfed and destroyed all that was on the bank.  Then the gathered water burst its way downstream and took men by surprise, as it had above, and caused a loss of life, overturned houses, destroyed beasts of burden, and overwhelmed with a sudden and violent flood all that was on the banks as far as the city of Geneva.  It is told by many that the mass of water was so great that it went over the walls into the city mentioned.  And there is no doubt of this tale because as we have said the Rhone flows in that region between mountains that hem it in closely, and being so closely shut in, it has no place to turn aside.  It carried away the fragments of the mountain that had fallen and thus caused it to disappear wholly.  And after this thirty monks came to the place where the town fell in ruins and began to dig in the ground which remained when the mountain had fallen, trying to find bronze and iron.  And while engaged in this they heard a rumbling of the mountain like the former one.  ­ And while they were kept there by their greed, the part of the mountain which had not yet fallen fell on them and covered and destroyed them and none of them was found.


In like manner too before the plague at Clermont great prodigies terrified that region.  For three or four great shining places frequently appeared about the sun and the rustics used to call them suns, saying: "Behold, three or four suns in the sky." (sun-dogs)  Once on the first of October [October 3, 563] the sun was so darkened that not a quarter of it continued bright, but it looked hideous and discoloured, about like a sack.  Moreover a star which certain call a comet, with a ray like a sword, appeared over that country through a whole year, and the sky seemed to be on fire and many other signs were seen.


… And presently the plague came, and such a carnage of the people took place through the whole district that the legions that fell could not be counted.  For when sepulchers and gravestones failed, ten or more would be buried in a single trench.  Three hundred dead bodies were counted one Sunday in the church of the blessed Peter alone.  Death was sudden.  A wound the shape of a serpent would appear on groin or armpit and the man would be so overcome by the poison as to die on the second or third day.  Moreover the power of the poison rendered the victim insensible.  At that time Cato the priest died.  For when many had fled from the plague he never left the place, but remained courageously burying the people and celebrating mass.  He was a priest of great kindliness and a warm friend of the poor.  And if he had some pride, thus virtue I think counterbalanced it.  But the bishop Cautinus, after running from place to place in fear of this plague, returned to the city, caught it and died on the day before Passion Sunday.  At that very hour too, Tetradius his cousin died.  At that time Lyons, Bourges, Cahors, and Dijon were seriously depopulated from this plague.”


History of the Franks

Gregory of Tours

Book 4, 31




“Most tsunamis occur in the marine realm and are associated with large earthquakes.  However, landlocked communities in regions without mega-earthquakes are not exempt from their destructive effects.  Tsunamis have been recorded in lakes as a result of earthquakes and seismogenic landslides, rockfalls and volcanic flank collapses, but have rarely affected large populations.  Here we present a seismic survey of Lake Geneva along with sediment core analyses suggesting that, in AD 563, a large tsunami caused considerable destruction around the lake.


The Lake Geneva region is unlikely to ever experience a truly massive earthquake, nor is the topography near the city of Geneva steep enough to generate destructive wave-generating rockfalls.  Yet, historical accounts report a rockfall in AD 563 — the so-called Tauredunum event — in the mountains more than 70 km from Geneva, where the Rhone River enters the lake.  There are no reports suggesting that the Tauredunum rockfall was triggered by an earthquake (well, except for 60 days of rumbling, no?), but we know that it destroyed several villages and caused a large number of casualties.  Both historical accounts describe how a tsunami, generated in Lake Geneva by the rockfall, inundated everything on the lake shore, devastated villages with their inhabitants and herds of animals, destroyed the Geneva bridge and mills, and entered the city of Geneva — passing over the city walls — and killed several people.


Analysis of the seismic profiles shows a giant sediment deposit beneath the lake bed that is characterized by chaotic and transparent seismic facies and an erosive base, which we interpret as a mass movement deposit.  This lens-shaped deposit covers the entire deep lake basin, with a length of over 10 km and width of 5 km, an average thickness of 5 m and an estimated minimum volume of 0.25 km3.  The unit is thickest in the southeast, indicating an origin in the Rhone delta.


We have estimated the age of the turbidite (underwater landslide deposit) on the basis of three samples of organic material collected near its top.  Two radiocarbon dates of leaf samples were used to build a linear relationship between sedimentation rate and time.  We derive an interval of AD 381 to 612 with 95% probability.  The third age, obtained from a wood sample embedded within the deposit, gives the earliest possible date for the event as ad 256 to 424 and thus validates the above age model.  Since the ad 563 event is the only significant natural event recorded in historical accounts within our calculated age interval, we consider our dating results to be a strong indication that the deposit is linked to the AD 563 rockfall and tsunami.


The event that triggered this tsunami was by no means unique.  Our seismic reflection record indicates that large mass movements were generated several times during the Holocene epoch (since roughly 11,600 years ago), and could also have triggered destructive waves.”

Giant Lake Geneva tsunami in AD 563

Nature Geoscience  October 2012

Katrina Kremer, Guy Simpson, and Stéphanie Girardclos

University of Geneva






“Fiery spears were seen in the air, portending the irruption of the Lombards into Italy.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster





 18th March


“A shooting star, as large as a bushel,  … when it extinguished, a noise like thunder was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“When we were staying in Paris signs appeared in the sky, namely, twenty rays in the northern part which rose in the east and sped to the west; and one of them was more extended and overtopped the rest and when it had risen to a great height it soon passed away, and likewise the remainder which followed disappeared.  I suppose they announced Merovech's death.”


History of the Franks

Gregory of Tours

Book 5, chapter 18




 8th January


“There appeared a shooting star, as large as the moon; she sank to the west while slithering like a serpent, with noise.  Its light illuminated the ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 21st July


“There appeared a shooting star the size on an egg; … it sank to the north-west.  It had a tail or trace over 10 degrees long; she entered into the moon and extinguished.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine




12th August


“There appeared another shooting star, as large as a bushel, blue, and bright enough to illuminate the ground; … it disappeared in the vapours.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“In A.  D.  579 a black dragon was killed by a red one.  Moreover, in the same year there was a fight of a white dragon with a black one, the result of which was that the white one ascended to the sky and the black one fell on the earth and died.  As black was the colour of the Later Cheu dynasty, these dragon fights- were forebodings of its approaching fall, which actually took place two years later.”


The Dragon in China and Japan

pages 47-48





 23rd June


“A shooting star, as large as 3 bushels, appeared at the principle port of Thai-wei…  Its colour was bluish-white, and its brightness illuminated the ground.  A noise was heard like that of flags flapping in the wind.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 30th August


“A shooting star as large as a bushel … sank to the north-east.  Its light illuminated the ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 3rd January


“There appeared a great shooting star, which made a noise like a wall crumbling down.  Its light illuminated the ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“In king Childebert's (II) seventh year, which was the twenty-first of Chilperic and Gunthram, in the month of January there were rains and heavy thunder and lightning; blossoms appeared on the trees.

The star which I called above the comet, appeared in such a way that there was a great blackness all around it and it was placed as it were in a hole and gleamed in the darkness, sparkling and scattering rays of light.  And a ray of wonderful size extended from it which appeared like the smoke of a great fire a long way off.  It appeared in the west in the first hour of the night.


At Soissons on the day of holy Easter the heavens were seen to be on fire, and there appeared to be two fires, one greater and the other less.  And after the space of two hours they united and formed a great flame and vanished.


In the territory of Paris real blood fell from the clouds and dropped on the garments of many men and so defiled them with gore that they shuddered at their own clothes and put them away from them.


This prodigy appeared in three places in the territory of that city.  In the territory of Senlis a certain man's house when he rose in the morning appeared to have been sprinkled with blood from within.  There was a great plague that year among the people. The sickness took various forms and was severe with pimples and tumors which brought death to many.  Still many who were careful escaped.  We heard that at Narbonne in that year the bubonic plague was very fatal, so that when a man was seized by it he had no time to live.”


History of the Franks

Gregory of Tours

Book 6, chapter 14




588 - June 25th


“During the casting of iron at the East Foundry, a red-colored object as large as several peck measures fell from the sky into the melting-pot.  It was accompanied by rumbling noises like thunder.  The [melted] iron flew over the wall and burned people's houses.”



chapter  6


Cited within:

Meteorite falls in China and some related human casualty events

Kevin Yau, Paul Weissman And Donald Yeomans

Meteoritics 29, pages 864-871 (1994)






“A flood, almost exceeding the belief of men, took place in Italy, and after a great deal of confusion a pestilence followed, which was called an inguinal plague; and which slew Pelagius the pope first of all, and after that, thinned the people with a terrible mortality.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster






“Contagion is the inseparable symptom of the plague; which, by mutual respiration, is transfused from the infected persons to the lungs and stomach of those who approach them.


Yet no restraints were imposed on the free and frequent intercourse of the Roman provinces: from Persia to France, the nations were mingled and infected by wars and emigrations; and the pestilential odour which lurks for years in a bale of cotton was imported, by the abuse of trade, into the most distant regions.


The winds might diffuse that subtle venom; but unless the atmosphere be previously disposed for its reception, the plague would soon expire in the cold or temperate climates of the earth.


Such was the universal corruption of the air, that the pestilence which burst forth in the fifteenth year of Justinian was not checked or alleviated by any difference of the seasons. In time, its first malignity was abated and dispersed; the disease alternately languished and revived; but it was not till the end of a calamitous period of fifty - two years (AD 542-594) that mankind recovered their health, or the air resumed its pure and salubrious quality.”


The History of the Decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Edward Gibbon

Abridged and edited by James Dean 1881


Sourced from within:

New Light on the Black Death

The Cosmic connection

Mike Baillie

Page 77

Citing this edition:

Nelson and Brown, Edinburgh, 1832






“The army of Ulaid was struck by terrible thunder in Bairche.”


The Annals of Ulster





 January 14th


“A large shooting star like a bushel fell onto the rebel Lu Ming-yueh's camp.  It destroyed his wall-attacking tower and crushed to death more than 10 people.”



History of Sui Dynasty (581-618)

chapters 4 and 21


Cited within:

Meteorite Falls in China and Some Related Human Casualty Events

Kevin Yau, Paul Weissman And Donald Yeomans

Meteoritics 29, pages 864-871 (1994)


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine

says “ten bushels”, whereas Meteorite Falls… says “1 bushel”.




28th May


“A large shooting star fell in the capital of the province of Ou (Ou-kiun, actually Sou-tcheou-fou of Kiang-nan); she changed herself into a stone.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine



14th October


“A shooting star, as large as a bushel … made a noise like a wall crumbling down.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 29th November


“A star fell at Toung-tou (Ho-nan-fou of Ho-nan): successive noises were heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A dark year.”


The Annals of Ulster





 Around June


“A shooting star appeared … There was a noise similar to thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






Darkness on the Kalends 1st of May at the ninth hour, and in the same summer the sky seemed to be on fire.  An earthquake in Britain.  The plague reached Ireland on the Kalends 1st of August.  In Mag Itha of Fotharta the plague first raged in Ireland.  From the death of Patrick 203 years, and from the first mortality 112 years.”


The Annals of Ulster






“The great mortality. Diarmait son of Aed Sláine and Blamac and Mael Bresail, sons of Mael Dúin, died i.e. of the buide Chonaill.  The falling asleep—from the same pestilence i.e. the buide Chonaill—of Féichéne of Fobar, and Ailerán the learned, and Crónán son of Silne.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A sudden pestilence depopulated first the southern parts of Britain, and afterwards attacking the province of the Northumbrians, ravaged the country far and near, and destroyed a great multitude of men.  By this plague the aforesaid priest of the Lord, Tuda, was carried off, and was honourably buried in the monastery called Paegnalaech.  Moreover, this plague prevailed no less disastrously in the island of Ireland.”


Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England


A revised translation with introduction, biography, and notes By

A. M. Sellar

George Bell and Sons




Project Gutenburg, 2011




664?  (675?)


“At the time of the pestilence, already often mentioned, which ravaged all the country far and wide, … … on a sudden a light from heaven, like a great sheet, came down upon them all, and struck them with such amazement, that, in consternation, they even left off singing their hymn … … But that resplendent light, in comparison wherewith the sun at noon-day might seem dark, soon after, rising from that place, removed to the south side of the monastery, that is, to the westward of the chapel, and having continued there some time, and rested upon those parts, in the sight of them all withdrew itself again to heaven …


The radiance of this light was so great, that one of the older brethren, who at the same time was in their chapel with another younger than himself, related in the morning, that the rays of light which came in at the crannies of the doors and windows, seemed to exceed the utmost brightness of daylight.”


Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England






“The plague still in Ireland.”


The Annals of Ulster





 15TH February


“There appeared a star … which sank to the east.  A noise was heard like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“The great plague i.e. the buide Chonaill.  Diarmait and Blamac, two kings of Ireland, and Feichíne of Fobar, and many others died, i.e. of the buide Chonaill, according to another book.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A great snowfall occurred.  A great famine.”


The Annals of Ulster





 Around December


“A shooting star was seen which made a noise like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“This story is set in the 670s, during the Tang dynasty.  A character, Liu I, features in a complicated love story wherein he meets the daughter of the Dragon king (the Dragon king is a Lord of Heaven) and takes a letter from her to the Dragon king’s palace.  Liu I met with the Dragon king, Ling Hsii, and the Dragon king’s brother Ch’ien T’ang. Liu I asks the Dragon king about his brother.  The Dragon king’s reply is interesting:


“He (Chi’ien T’ang) is so wild and impetuous that I am afraid he might do great damage.  The great flood which covered the earth for nine years during the reign of the emperor Yao was caused by him in his anger.  Because he had a quarrel with a heavenly ruler he caused a great flood which reached to the summits of the five tall mountains.”



… … The story then describes Ch’ien T’ang in more detail:


“… a sudden uproar broke out, a noise rending the sky and shaking the earth and causing the whole palace (the sky) to tremble, and smoke and clouds to billow out with a fierce hissing.  A red dragon burst in (Ch’ien T’ang) a thousand feet long, with flashing eyes, a blood red tongue, scarlet scales and a fiery beard.  The column to which he had been fettered was dragged along by him on a chain through the air.  Snow, rain and hail were swirling in wild confusion.  There was a thunderclap and the dragon soared up towards the sky and disappeared.”



Ch’ien T’ang:  I fought those damned dragons and utterly defeated them.

The Dragon king:  How many did you kill?

Ch’ien T’ang:  Six hundred thousand.

The Dragon king:  Was farmland damaged?

Ch’ien T’ang:  Over some eight hundred miles.


New Light on the Black Death

Page 66


Quoting from:

Chinese Folktales.

Wilhelm, R. 1971

translated from the German by E. Osers

G. Bell and Sons, London

Page 125






“A thin and tremulous cloud in the shape of a rainbow appeared at the fourth vigil of night on the sixth feria preceding Easter, extending from east to west through a clear sky.  The moon became the colour of blood.”


The Annals of Ulster






“[In] 660, Cadwallawn, son of Cadvan, king of the Britons, died, and his son, Cadwalader the Blessed, became king in his room; and after ten years of peace, the great disease, called the "yellow pest,” took place through the whole island of Britain; and that began in the year of Christ 674.


And on account of that pest, Cadwalader and many of the best men of the Britons went to Armorica, where their countrymen had been settled a long time previously: and on account of that disease neither war nor agriculture could take place in the island of Britain.


And a great famine ensued, which destroyed an immense number of the Cymry and Saxons; and the famine and the pest lasted eleven years, until the affliction became very severe to all the people in the isle of Britain.”


Brut Y Tywysogion

Chronicle Of The Princes


 “The above history was transcribed from the book of

George Williams, Esq., of Aberpergwm, by me, Thomas

Richards, curate of Llangrallo, in the year 1764.”


“And I, Iorwerth, son of Iorwerth, transcribed it from the

book of the Rev. Mr. Richards, in the year 1790.”


Printed in:

 The Journal of the Cambrian Archaeological Assocation

Volume 10, third series, J. Russel Smith, London, 1864







“A star of marvellous brightness was seen shining throughout the whole world.”


The Annals of Wales

Paul Halsall, Fordham University, November 1998

Based on: Ingram, James, translator. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. London: Everyman Press, 1912.






“A bright comet was seen in the months of September and October.”


The Annals of Ulster






“In these days also appeared a comet for three months, and each day it shone in the morning with a splendour equal to the sun.”

Flowers of History

Roger of Wendover






“In the year of our Lord 678, which is the eighth of the reign of Egfrid, in the month of August, appeared a star, called a comet, which continued for three months, rising in the morning, and sending forth, as it were, a tall pillar of radiant flame.”


Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England



 “ … the monastery of Coldingiham was destroyed by fire from heaven.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Translation by Rev. James Ingram (London, 1823)

with additional readings from the translation of Dr. J.A. Giles (London, 1847)

Produced by Douglas B. Killings for Project Gutenberg



11th June


“A large shooting star …”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine



5th January


“A large shooting star illuminated the ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“Bishop Wilfrid, while preaching the Gospel to the people, not only delivered them from the misery of eternal damnation, but also from a terrible calamity of temporal death. For no rain had fallen in that district for three years before his arrival in the province, whereupon a grievous famine fell upon the people and pitilessly destroyed them; insomuch that it is said that often forty or fifty men, wasted with hunger, would go together to some precipice, or to the sea-shore, and there, hand in hand, in piteous wise cast them themselves down either to perish by the fall, or be swallowed up by the waves.


But on the very day on which the nation received the Baptism of the faith, there fell a soft but plentiful rain; the earth revived, the fields grew green again, and the season was pleasant and fruitful.”


Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England






“Beginning of the mortality of children in the month of October.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A great plague in Britain, in which Cadwaladr son of Cadwallon dies.”


The Annals of Wales






“Loch nEchach was turned into blood this year.”


Chronicon Scotorum

translated by William M. Hennessy, Gearóid Mac Niocaill

Electronic edition compiled by Beatrix Färber and Ruth Murphy

Funded by University College, Cork and

Professor Marianne McDonald via the CELT Project






“A plague was in Ireland.”


The Annals of Wales






“The mortality of the children.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A great earthquake in the Isle of Man.”


The Annals of Wales






“A great windstorm and earthquake in the island of Ireland.”


Chronicon Scotorum






“Part of the sun was obscured.”


The Annals of Ulster






“The rain turned to blood in Britain, and in Ireland milk and butter turned to blood.”


The Annals of Wales






“A great windstorm on the sixteenth of the Kalends of October 16 Sept. caused the drowning of some six of the community of Í.”


The Annals of Ulster






“The moon turned to the colour of blood on the feast of the Nativity of St. Martin.”


Chronicon Scotorum






“A bloody rain fell in Laigin.”


Chronicon Scotorum






“The bloody rain occurred in the island of Britain, so that the milk, butter, and cheese, acquired a red colour like blood.”


Brut Y Tywysogion

Chronicle Of The Princes





“A murrain of cattle in the land of the Saxons.”


The Annals of Ulster






“The cattle mortality broke out in Ireland on the Kalends of February in Mag Trega in Tethba.  Famine and pestilence prevailed in Ireland for three years, so that man ate man.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A great frost in this year so that the lakes and rivers of Ireland froze, and the sea between Ireland and Scotland froze so that there was travelling between them on ice.”


Chronicon Scotorum






“The mortality of cows.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Two earthquakes in the same week in the month of December in the northern part of Ireland.”


The Annals of Ulster


There are only 13 earthquake accounts in all The Annals of Ulster, which spans from 431 to 1540.

9 of these occurred between 600 and 768





 24th April


“There appeared a shooting star which made a noise like thunder and whose light illuminated the ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 16th March


“There was a large star that fell in the south-west which made a noise like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A pestilence called bacach with dysentery in Ireland.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Great drought.”


The Annals of Ulster





 15th July


“In the night, there appeared shooting stars in the north-west.  Some were as large as a jug; others large as a bushel: they moved across the north pole.  The number of the smaller ones could not be counted.  The stars of the sky were in tremendous agitation.  It was only until the morning when the phenomenon ceased.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“Night was as bright as day.”


The Annals of Wales






“When Oumaros had become master of the Arabs, he ordered Masalmas to turn back, and, on 15 August, the Hagarenes moved off in great shame.  As their fleet sailed away, a God-sent storm fell upon them and scattered them through the intercession of the Mother of God.  Some sank by Prokonesos and the other islands, others by Apostropha and the adjoining shores.  The remainder were going through the Aegean Sea when a terrible calamity came over them; for a fiery hail fell upon them and brought the sea-water to a boil, and as the pitch of their keels dissolved, their ships sank in the deep, crews and all.  Only ten of them escaped, and this by God's providence, so as to proclaim both to us and to the Arabs the divine prodigies they had experienced. Some of our men chanced upon them and were able to seize five of them, while the other five escaped to Syria to announce God's mighty deeds. 


In the same year, after a violent earthquake had occurred in Syria, Oumar banned the use of wine in cities and set about forcing the Christians to become converted: those that converted he exempted from tax, while those that refused to do so he killed and so produced many martyrs.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“A shower of honey rained on Othan Bec, a shower of silver upon Othan Mór, a shower of blood upon the foss of Laigin. Hence Niall Frosach son of Fergal, who was born at that time, is so named.”


Chronicon Scotorum






“A rainy summer.  A great sea-flood in the month of October.”


The Annals of Ulster






“An earthquake in October.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A wonderful hot summer occurred, the drought and heat of which destroyed trees, herbs, and animals; and in the month of September of the same year the unexpected flood took place which breached the church of Llancarvan and many of the houses, and drowned an infinity of the cattle and the sheep, causing a very great loss; and the same in many other places.  And at the same time a prodigious flood in the Severn sea broke the embankments; and a great deal of the low land on the sea shore in Glamorganshire, Monmouthshire, and Somersetshire, was lost, and great the losses thereby.”


Brut Y Tywysogion

Chronicle Of The Princes






“In the summer season of the same year, indiction 9, a vapour as from a fiery furnace boiled up for a few days from the depth of the sea between the islands of Thera and Therasia.  As it gradually became thicker and filled with stones because of the heat of the burning fire, all the smoke took on a fiery appearance.  Then, on account of the density of the earthy substance, pumice stones as big as hills were thrown up against all of Asia Minor, Lesbos, Abydos, and coastal Macedonia, so that the entire surface of that sea was filled with floating pumice.  In the midst of so great a fire an island that had not previously existed was formed and joined to the Sacred Island, as it is called, for, just as the aforementioned islands Thera and Therasia had once been thrown up, so was this one, too …”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“This year appeared the comet-star.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle






“In the year of our Lord 729, two comets appeared about the sun, to the great terror of the beholders.  One of them went before the sun in the morning at his rising, the other followed him when he set in the evening, as it were presaging dire disaster to both east and west; or without doubt one was the forerunner of the day, and the other of the night, to signify that mortals were threatened with calamities at both times.  They carried their flaming brands towards the north, as it were ready to kindle a conflagration.


They appeared in January, and continued nearly a fortnight.  At which time a grievous blight fell upon Gaul, in that it was laid waste by the Saracens with cruel bloodshed; but not long after in that country they received the due reward of their unbelief.”


Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England






“An earthquake on the sixth of the Ides 8th of February, the fourth feria Wednesday.”


The Annals of Ulster





“The Nihon Shukyo Fuzokushi gives an old tradition explaining the names of three Buddhist temples in Shimosa province:


In 730 A. D., when the priest Shaku-myo by order of the Emperor prayed for rain, he had a splendid success, and at the same time a dragon appeared in the air, who cut his own body into three parts and died.


The middle part fell in Imba district, where the temple called Ryufukuji, or "Shrine of the Dragon's Belly", is to be found.  The tail came down in Katori district (also in Shimosa), and caused the shrine Ryubiji ("Temple of the Dragon's Tail") to be built, while the head descended on the spot where the aforesaid priest had been praying and where still nowadays the name of the sanctuary, - Ryukakuji, or "Temple of the Dragon's Horn" (at Sakai village, Shimohabu district) reminds the believers of the dragon of old.”


The Dragon in China and Japan

page 177






“A fiery sign that gave forth light appeared in the sky.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor





“A huge dragon was seen, with great thunder after it, at the end of autumn.”


The Annals of Ulster


This is one of only two references to Dragons in The Annals of Ulster, which spans from 431 to 1540






“An excessive drought rendered the land unfruitful.”


Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England






“An earthquake in Íle on the second of the Ides of April.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Edessa was flooded by its stream on the 28th of the month Peritios.  In the same year a violent and fearful earthquake occurred at Constantinople on 26 October, indiction 9, a Wednesday, in the 8th hour.  Many churches and monasteries collapsed and many people died.  There also fell down the statue of Constantine the Great that stood above the gate of Atalos as well as that of Atalos himself, the statue of Arkadios that stood on the column of the Xerolophos, and the statue of Theodosios the Great above the Golden Gate; furthermore, the land walls of the City, many towns and villages in Thrace, Nicomedia in Bithynia, Prainetos, and Nicaea, where only one church was spared.  In some places the sea withdrew from its proper boundaries.  The quakes continued for twelve months.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“A great drought came upon the country.”


Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England






“There was much drought and earthquakes occurred in several places so that mountains were joined to one another in the desert of Saba and villages were swallowed up by the earth.  …  In the month of June a sign appeared in the sky to the north.


“In this year a sign appeared in the north and in some places dust fell down from heaven.  There was also an earthquake at the Caspian Gates.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“Fiery visions were seen in the sky on the first of January, such as no men of that age had ever beheld.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster






“In this year a great comet appeared in Syria.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor





 4th April


“A star as large as the moon fell to the south-east.  After its fall, noise was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“The stars went swiftly shooting.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle






“A horrible and wonderful sign was seen in the stars at night.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Dragons were seen in the sky.”


The Annals of Ulster


This is one of only two references to Dragons in The Annals of Ulster, which spans from 431 to 1540






“In this period very great signs appeared from the month of March to the end of April.  The air was full of dirt and dust to the point that day seemed like night.


Then there appeared in the north three columns of fiery clouds [visible] for three days.  These arose and descended.


After this there appeared an unknown star, the size of the moon.  Each day it rose in the east and travelled to the west, being visible to people for the entire day.  There were flashes of the stars all night which flew against the Milky Way.


After this there was a severe earthquake and, [in places] where the earth was torn asunder, fountains arose, the color of blood.


After this there was a huge churning in the Great Sea [the Mediterranean] with waves rising to the heavens one would think, and [seemingly] boiling down to its depths.  Many people and animals near the shores died from the thunderbolts.


A fortress which belonged to the children of Ammon which had been built in the midst of the sea was torn from its foundations.  The great tower which had been built with great care by Solomon over a fountain he had discovered in the water collapsed and sank.


Following this there was a great famine and a plague accompanied by sore throats which killed 20,000 people a day in Basra.


It is said that monkeys in the country of the Madianites became enraged and caused great damage by attacking people and animals.


When Caliph Marwan of Damascus, who had moved his capital to Harran, saw all of this he repented, seeing his death before him, and wrote [edicts] to all his realm [urging] repentance.


The ground trembled, tears flowed, and everywhere fasts and prayer vigils were undertaken.  For they believed that these numerous strange signs were omens of the coming end of the world.  Indeed, extraordinary marvels occurred.  For example, there was a village at the foot of Mount Tabor which an earthquake moved from its place and transported two miles distant without disturbing any structures and without losing a single chicken.


The city of Manbij sank in its place.


A third of the city of Constantinople collapsed, while Nicaea was completely demolished.  Moreover, many cities in Bithynia were destroyed.”


Chronicle of Michael the Syrian

page 153





“In this year there was a great earthquake in Palestine, by the Jordan and in all of Syria on 18 January, in the 4th hour.  Numberless multitudes perished, churches and monasteries collapsed, especially those in the desert of the Holy City.


In the same year a pestilence that had started in Sicily and Calabria travelled like a spreading fire all through the 14th indiction to Monobasia, Hellas, and the adjoining islands, thus scourging in advance the impious Constantine and restraining his fury against the Church and the holy icons, even though he remained unrepentant like Pharaoh of old.  This disease of the bubonic plague spread to the Imperial City in the 15th indiction. 


All of a sudden, without visible cause, there appeared many oily crosslets upon men's garments, on the altar cloths of churches, and on hangings.  The mysteriousness of this presage inspired great sorrow and despondency among the people.  Then God's wrath started destroying not only the inhabitants of the City, but also those of all its outskirts. 


Many men had hallucinations and, being in ecstasy, imagined to be in the company of certain strangers of terrible aspect who, as it were, addressed in friendly fashion those they met and conversed with them.  Taking note of their conversation, they later reported it.  They also saw the same men entering houses, killing some of the inmates, and wounding others with the sword.  Most of what they said came to pass just as they had seen it. 


In the spring of the 1st indiction the plague intensified and in the summer it flared up all at once so that entire households were completely shut up and there was no one to bury the dead.  Because of extreme necessity a way was devised of placing planks upon animals saddled with four paniers each and so removing the dead or piling them likewise one upon the other in carts.  When all the urban and suburban cemeteries had been filled as well as empty cisterns and ditches, and many vineyards had been dug up and even the orchards within the old walls to make room for the burial of human bodies, only then was the need satisfied.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“There were seen stars falling from heaven, so that all who beheld them thought that the end of the world was at hand.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster


In the paper Solar activity around AD 775 from aurorae and radiocarbon:

this event is dated to 744, not 747






“Snow of unusual depth so that nearly all the cattle of the whole of Ireland perished, and the world afterwards was parched by unusual drought.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Ships with their crews were seen in the air above Cluain Moccu Nóis.”


The Annals of Ulster






“In the same year there was an earthquake and terrible destruction in Syria, as a result of which some cities were entirely destroyed, others partially so, while others slid down entire, with their walls and houses, from positions on mountains to low-lying plains, a distance of six miles or thereabout.  Eyewitnesses affirmed that the ground in Mesopotamia was split along two miles and that out of the chasm was thrown up a different soil, very white and sandy, in the midst of which, they said, there came up an animal like a mule, quite spotless, that spoke in a human voice and announced the incursion of a certain nation from the desert against the Arabs, which indeed came to pass.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“The earthquake of January 18, 749 [?], is thought to be one of the strongest ever to hit the Middle East.  Till recently, researchers knew about the quake only from historical sources.  A Coptic priest from Alexandria reported that support beams in houses in Egypt had shifted; a Syrian priest wrote that a village in the region of Mount Tavor had moved a distance of four miles; while other sources spoke of huge tidal waves in the Mediterranean Sea, of Damascus shaking for a few days, and of smaller cities and towns being swallowed up in the earth.


The most detailed descriptions came from Jerusalem, where thousands were reported dead, where palaces and churches collapsed, and where the Al-Aqsa Mosque suffered serious damage.


The historical sources gave the geologists some idea of the intensity of the quake, and its epicenter, but no more than that.  Findings during an archaeological dig in Tiberias a year ago, however, allowed geologists to analyze the quake using modern research techniques, as if it had occurred just yesterday.


The findings of the research, conducted by Dr.  Shmuel Marco of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Moshe Hartal of the Antiquities Authority, are now being published.  The study stipulates the intensity of the quake and its epicenter; and the data is helping researchers predict the maximum strength of the next quake that will shake the region, as well as where it is likely to hit.


The rare findings were discovered last summer.  During the course of a dig designed to facilitate the expansion of the Galei Kinneret Hotel, Hartal noticed a mysterious phenomenon: Alongside a layer of earth from the time of the Umayyad era (638-750), and at the same depth, the archaeologists found a layer of earth from the Ancient Roman era (37 B.C.E.-132).


"I encountered a situation  for which I had no explanation - two layers of earth from hundreds of years apart lying side by side," says Hartal.  "I was simply dumbfounded."


The mystery was solved only when geologists who arrived at the site determined that an earthquake of immense intensity had raised the Roman era layer of earth to the same level as the layer of earth from the Umayyad era.  What Hartal had stumbled across was a rare geological find - an active fault line from 749 dividing two expanses of land that had moved during an earthquake.”


The Big One Is Coming

Amiram Barkat

Haaretz 07.08.2003






“At that time happened a fearful sight and a strange portent resulting from an appearance in the sky. It began about candle-lighting and was visible during the whole night, causing surprise and great fear in all the beholders. For it seemed to them as though all the stars left their appointed places in the heavens, and descended towards the earth. But when they came near the ground, they were one and all suddenly dissipated without doing any damage whatever. Many assert that this astonishing sight was witnessed throughout the whole world.”


Saint Nikephoros I

Writer and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople







“A dark sun.”


The Annals of Ulster






“There was great tribulation by reason of pestilence, which continued almost two years, divers grievous sicknesses raging, but more especially the disease of dysentery.”


Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England






“In this year, on 9 March, there occurred a considerable earthquake in Palestine and Syria.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor





Honestly, I can’t make heads or tails out of these earthquake dates, throughout this period.

There seems to be multiple distinct large earthquakes, on separate occasions, but, also, at the same time, modern scholarship seems to believe the big one in Palestine happened in 749, contradicting the clear 18 January 746 dating by Theophanes in my edition (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997).


The Ha-Aretz article above seems to have conflated multiple earthquakes.  They mention mount Tavor beng moved wholesale – that’s in 746, then the discovery they report is of the layer of sediment moving over another layer – and that is clearly in 749.


What is clear is that the 739/740 earthquake is distinct from the 745/746 earthquake, and these are distinct from the 748/749 earthquake, and the 755 quake is also distinct, because within Theophanes, they are reported years apart, within the same book, right?  Within the same chronicle! 


On top of all this, the time of year given by Michael (“after March and April”) does not jive at all with Theophanes’ “18 January”.  Are these two separate events?



My edition of Theophanes has a note, concerning the plague that followed the big quake in Palestine:


“AD 747/8. This is the date given for the plague in Kleinchronik, 2. 4 (Schreiner, i. 47).”


So, how in the world can the big Palestine quake be dated to 749?

The big one, 18 January of some year, must have been 746.

I don’t know where this 749 business comes from, which I found in modern articles about the “749 Galilee earthquake”.


The Global Significant Earthquake Database lists an entry for an earthquake in Israel on the 18th of January, 746!

So, where in the world does this “749 Galilee earthquake” date come from???

This 746 date, from the Earthquake Database, must have been taken directly from Theophanes.

I’m sticking with Theophanes.


Both the 746 and the 749 quakes were severe and notable, and so, it seems, modern scholarship lumped them together.  Perhaps they assum the dates are so close, it must have just been an error.


After all this, reading the wicki on the “749 Galilee earthquake”, I am even more confused.

Dates shift by one year, so that 746 becomes 747 and 749 becomes 750, among other issues.

I’m sticking with 746 for the big one for now.






 19th May


“In the middle of the night, there appeared a large star of a reddish-yellow color, around 100 degrees long: its light illuminated the ground; it fell in the camp of the rebels besieging Nan-yang.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 3rd December


“There appeared a shooting star, the size of a bushel, which fell to the north-east.  She was about 10 degrees long, traveling with a coiling motion like a serpent, while ejecting shards of fire from all sides.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A very bright comet appeared for ten days in the east and another twenty-one days in the west.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“Famine and a great mast-crop.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Starting in early October, there was very bitter cold, not only in our land, but even more so to the east, the north, and the west, so that on the north coast of the Pontos to a distance of 100 miles the sea froze from the cold to a depth of thirty cubits.  The same happened from Zigchia to the Danube, including the river Kouphis, the Danastris, the Danapris, and Nekropelai, and the rest of the coast as far as Mesembria and Medeia.


All this ice was snowed upon and grew by another twenty cubits, so that the sea became indistinguishable from land: upon this ice wild men and tame animals could walk from the direction of Chazaria, Bulgaria, and other adjoining countries.  In the month of February of the same 2nd indiction this ice was, by God's command, split up into many different mountain-like sections which were carried down by the force of the winds to Daphnousia and Hieron and, by way of the Straits, reached the City and filled the whole coast as far as the Propontis, the islands, and Abydos.


Of this I was myself an eyewitness, for I climbed on one of those [icebergs] and played on it together with some thirty boys of the same age.  Some of my wild and tame animals also died.  Anyone who so wished could walk without hindrance as on dry land from Sophianai to the City and from Chrysopolis to St Mamas and to Galata.


One of the icebergs struck the jetty of the Acropolis and crushed it.  Another huge one struck the wall and shook it greatly so that the houses on the inside partook of the quake.  It then broke into three pieces and ringed the City from the Mangana to the Bosporus, rising in height above the walls.  All the inhabitants of the City, men, women, and children, ceaselessly watched these things and would return home with lamentation and tears, not knowing what to say. 


In the same year, in the month of March the stars were seen falling from heaven all at once, so that all the observers thought it was the end of the present world.  Then there was a great drought, so much so that sources dried up.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“A great snowfall which lasted almost three months.  A great scarcity, and famine.  An abnormally great drought.  A bloody flux throughout Ireland.  Three showers fell in Crích Muiredaig in Inis Eogain, i.e. a shower of pure silver, a shower of wheat, and a shower of honey.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A horrible and wonderful sign was seen in the stars at night.  A shortage of bread.”


The Annals of Ulster





 4th July


“A star - a bad omen, fell in the capital district Fen-tcheou (Thai-yonen-fou of Chan-si).”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine



30th December


“From the 2nd hour of the night until the morning, there was a shower of shooting stars.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“On Saturday, the fourth day of January, stars were seen falling as it were from heaven.”


Dionysius Patriarcha

also known as Dionysius of Tel Mahre

Patriarch of Antioch, and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 818 until his death in 845.

Cited within:

Bibliotheca Orientalis

Giuseppe Simone Assemani







“An earthquake and famine; and a leprous disease attacked many.”


The Annals of Ulster






“The fair of the clapping of hands, so called because terrific and horrible signs appeared at the time, which were like unto the signs of the day of judgment, namely, great thunder and lightning, so that it was insufferable to all to hear the one and see the other.


Fear and horror seized the men of Ireland, so that their religious seniors ordered them to make two fasts, together with fervent prayer, and one meal between them, to protect and save them from a pestilence, precisely at Michaelmas.  Hence came the Lamhchomart, which was called the Fire from heaven.”


Annals of the Four Masters

Book 1


The Annals of Ulster dates this to 771, whereas the Annals of the Four Masters dates this to 767.

Dates from the Annals from Ulster seem to be significantly more reliable.





 2nd November


“There appeared in the west a shooting star as large as a bushel.  Its light illuminated the ground.  It had a tail that glistened like pearls, around 50 degrees long … and it disappeared.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






 “In the second year of his reign, [49th emperor of Japan, Koonin] there happened a storm of thunder and lightning dreadful beyond expression.  It rained fire from Heaven, like stars, and the air was filled with a frightful noise.”


Contributions towards a History of the Star-Showers of Former Times

Communicated by Edward C. Herrick, Rec. Sec. of the Conn. Acad.

Read before the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 28, 1840; and since revised.

Printed in The American Journal of Science and Arts

Volume 39, 1840

page 350



History of Japan

Engelbert Kamfer, M.D., translated by J. G. Scheuchzer

London, 1728

folio, Volume 1, page 162






“Unaccustomed drought and heat of the sun so that nearly all bread-grain failed. Abundance of oak-mast afterwards.”


The Annals of Ulster






“This year also appeared in the heavens a red crucifix, after sunset; …  and wonderful serpents were seen in the land of the South-Saxons.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle






“The whole winter in summer, i.e. heavy rain and windstorm.  The bloody flux; also many other diseases—almost a mortality. A great murrain of cows.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Fiery and terrible signs were seen in the heavens after the setting of the sun.  And serpents, too, were seen in Sussex, to the great wonder of the people, as if they rose in abundance out of the earth.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster






“At night, in the eastern direction above the Moon there were more than ten streaks (dao) of white vapour (baiqi).  They were like unspun silk.  They penetrated (guan) [the star groups] Wuche (in Auriga), Dongjing (in Gemini), Yugui (in Cancer), Zui and Shen (both in Orion), Bi (in Taurus), Liu (in Hydra), and Xuanyuan (in Leo).  After the third watch (i.e., after about 1:30 a.m), they disappeared.”


Jiu Tangshu (“Old History of the Tang Dynasty”)

Liu Xu (ed.) Jiutangshu, Beijing, 1975 (in Chinese)

v. 36, p. 1328


Sourced from:

Do the Chinese astronomical records dated AD 776 January 12/13 describe an auroral display or a lunar halo? A critical re­examination

F. Richard Stephenson

Department of physics, Durham






“The bloody flux; the great murrain of cows.”


The Annals of Ulster






“The murrain of cows did not cease, and there was a mortality of men from want.  The smallpox throughout Ireland.  A great windstorm at the end of autumn.”


The Annals of Ulster







“Ard Macha and Magh Eo were burned by lightning on Saturday night, precisely on the fourth of the Nones of August.  That night was terrible with thunder, lightning, and wind storms; and it was on this night the monastery of Cluain Bronaigh Clonbroney was destroyed.”


Annals of the Four Masters

Book 1


Dates from these annals have been consistently early by 3-5 years, in these earlier time-frames, so it is probably in 782, equivalent to the next entry:




“Terrible lightning (?) throughout Saturday night—and thunder—on the fourth of the nones 2nd of August, and a very violent windstorm destroyed the monastery of Cluain Brónaig.  The scamach was prevalent.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A pestilence called scamach.  A great windstorm in January.  An inundation in Dairinis.  A horrible vision in Cluain Moccu Nóis, and great penance done throughout Ireland.”


The Annals of Ulster






 “This year came dreadful fore-warnings over the land of the Northumbrians, terrifying the people most woefully: these were immense sheets of light rushing through the air, and whirlwinds, and fiery dragons flying across the firmament.  These tremendous tokens were soon followed by a great famine: and not long after, on the sixth day before the ides of January in the same year, the harrowing inroads of heathen men made lamentable havoc in the church of God in Holy-island, by rapine and slaughter.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle






“… some terrible prodigies alarmed the miserable nation of the English.  For fearful lightnings and dragons, blazing in a dreadful manner, were seen to fly through the air, signs which foreshowed a mighty famine, and a terrible slaughter among mankind.  Accordingly, the Danes came on with the Norwegians, and slew in a fearful manner the people of the provinces of Northumberland and Lindisfarne, and destroyed the churches of Christ with their inhabitants.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster





 20th June


“A star fell in the north-east.  Its radiance was equal to that of day.  It made a noise like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A great snowfall in which many men and cattle perished.”


Annals of Ulster






“Violent thunder, accompanied by wind and fire, on the night before St. Patrick's Day, which destroyed many persons, i.e. one thousand and ten in Corcu Baiscinn; and the sea divided the island of Fita into three parts, and covered the land of Fita with sand, that is as much land as would support 12 cows.”


Annals of Ulster






“A great pestilence broke out in the island of Ireland.”


Annals of Ulster





 17th January


“There was a shooting star which traversed the sky which had a tail broken like a string of pearls.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“Fire from heaven struck down a man in the oratory of Nuadu.”


Annals of Ulster





 16th September


“In the north-west there appeared a large star that fell toward the south-east.  A noise was heard like rolling thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“The moon covered. Mynyw burnt. Death of cattle in Britain.”


The Annals of Wales






“The moon darkened on Xmas Day; and the Saxons burnt Menevia; and Deganwy burnt by wild fire; and the prodigious mortality among the cattle through the whole island of Britain; and the kingdom of Mona and the kingdom of Dyved impoverished on account of the war between Hywel Vychan and his brother Cynan, in which Hywel conquered Mona.”


Brut Y Tywysogion

Chronicle Of The Princes





 30th March


“Between the 3rd and 5th hour of the evening, the sky was covered, it was cold out.  There was a shooting star, large like 10 bushels, which fell on the boundary between the boroughs of Yen-tcheou and Yun-tching (Chan-toung).


The sound was heard in tens of locations.  Wild pheasants cried out.


Over the region where it fell, there rose a red vapour, similar to a standing serpent, and longer than 10 feet.  This vapour did not disperse until night.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“The fortress of Degannwy is struck by lightning and burnt.”


The Annals of Wales






“On the 4th of the same month was seen a comet in the shape of two luminous crescents, now united, now separated so as to assume different forms and take on the likeness of a headless man.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“Great distress and severe illnesses.”


Annals of Ulster





 In February


“A star, as large as half a straw-mat, starting from below, rose up.  Its light illuminated the ground.  A number of smaller stars followed it.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“Terrific thunder and lightning, which destroyed and burnt houses and trees.”


Brut Y Tywysogion

Chronicle Of The Princes






“There was great thunder and it caused many fires.”


The Annals of Wales






A great wind-storm on the Kalends 1st of November.


Annals of Ulster





 26th October


“At the start of night, a large shooting star appeared in the middle of the sky.  Its head was like a jug, and its tail like a harbour-boat (with a load of) 2000 bushels, and more than 100 degrees long.  It made a noise like a flock of flying ducks, and glowed like a lit torch. 


It passed under the moon and fell toward the east; and soon thereafter, we heard a detonation composed of several strikes.  At the moment when the star fell to earth, there was, 3 times, a great noise as loud as that of a house crumbling down.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine







“There was abnormal ice and much snow from the Epiphany to Shrovetide.  The Bóinn and other rivers were crossed dry-footed; lakes likewise.  Herds and hunting-parties were on Loch nEchach, and wild deer were hunted.  The materials for an oratory were afterwards brought by a large company (?) from the lands of Connacht over Upper and Lower Loch Éirne into Tír Ua Crimthainn; and other unusual things were done in the frost and hail.”


Annals of Ulster






From Bede’s Ecclesiastical History:


“Ireland is broader than Britain and has a much healthier and milder climate; for the snow scarcely ever lies there above three days: no man makes hay in the summer for winter's provision, or builds stables for his beasts of burden.”








“Abnormal ice; the seas, lakes and rivers froze and herds of horses and cattle, and loads, were brought across them.”


The Annals of Ulster







“There was a large star that fell in the town of Ou (Sou-tcheou-fou­): it made a noise like wings of birds in flight.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 14th June


“A shooting star appeared … its brilliance illuminated the ground.  A muffled noise was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“Fire from heaven struck the abbot's mansion in Ard Macha and burned it.”


The Annals of Ulster





 23rd September


“During the night, there was a large shooting star, the size of several bushels.  It appeared in the north-west … and sank in the south-east.  It passed very near to the moon, threw off a bright light and extinguished while dividing.  When it fell to earth, noise was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A great pestilence in the island of Ireland affected the old, the children and the weak; there was great famine and shortage of bread.”


The Annals of Ulster






“Great terror in all Ireland, i.e. from a warning of plague given by Iellán's son of Mumu.”


The Annals of Ulster





 11th July


“In the middle of the night, there was a shooting star … its color was red, and it left a long train which illuminated the ground, with the likeness of a string of pearls.  Going north … it extinguished.  A noise like thunder was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 8th November


“There was seen a star as large as a bushel and 50 degrees long, spinning to the north-west.  …  When it extinguished, it shot forth arrows slithering like serpents.


In the middle of the sky, there was some noise.  Many hundreds of smaller stars were following the big one.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine



18th December


“A large star fell at Hing-youen (Han-tchong-fou in Chen-si), on the bedroom of the governor.  The light illuminated the whole house.”






“In the 8th month, on the 29th day, in Japan, according to a writing plate used by Abel-Rémufat, in the province of Ifumo, in a place where there are no stones, after ten days of thunder and rain, many stones were found that resemble the spikes of arrows and small axes, some white, and some red.”


Ueber Feuer-Meteore : und über die mit denselben herabgefallenen Massen

About fire meteors: and about the masses that fell with them

Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni


Chladni’s note here:

“It is doubtful whether we are talking about a meteor stone-fall, or whether belemnites [marine fossils that look like arrow-heads] or other defilements may be caused by the washing out of the earth, by rain.”





 3rd October


“A shooting star … having a tail of more than 80 degrees, made a sound like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 23rd July


“In the north, there was a star that illuminated the ground, and sank to the north-east.  A noise was heard like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine



22nd December


“A large star fell to the north, its light illuminating the ground.  A noise was heard like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 1st October


“There appeared a large star with the appearance of a lit straw torch.  Its light illuminated both sky and ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“There was much ice and frost so that the principal lakes and rivers of Ireland could be crossed by people on foot and on horseback from the ninth of the Kalends of December 23 Nov. to the seventh of the Ides 7 of January.”


The Annals of Ulster






“October 17. “This year there was a fall of stars during the night preceding the first day of the month Djomadi II, (Hegira 241,) which continued from the beginning of the night until dawn. At the same period earthquakes were felt in all parts of the world.”


Tarich el-Mansury

Cod. 521. Acad. Sci. fol. 51

cited by M. Fraehn, in a communication to the Imp. Acad. Sci. of St. Petersburgh

Dec. 1, 1837;

quoted in L’Institut, Paris, No. 252, p. 350. Oct. 25, 1838.


Cited in Contributions towards a History of the Star-Showers of Former Times

pages 353-355






“Three persons were burned in Tailtiu by fire from heaven.  A great windstorm caused a destruction of trees and ruined lake islands.”


The Annals of Ulster






“A remarkable eruption of water from Sliab Cualann, with little black fishes.  A great windstorm on the Feast of Martin 11 Nov.”


Annals of Ulster





 25th November


“There appeared a star with the appearance of a silk-skin.  It traversed the sky, transformed itself into a cloud, and disappeared.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“Great wind and lightning. A shower of blood fell and clots of gore and blood were found in the fields.”


Annals of Ulster





 Around October


“A large star fell at Yang-tcheou-fou in Kiang-nan; it made a noise like thunder, and its light illuminated the ground.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 Around June


“While the imperial troops were north of Pien-tcheou (Khai-loung-fou in Ho-nan), there appeared, in broad daylight, a large star that fell in the camp, with a noise like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A pilgrim came to Ireland with the 'Law of Sunday' and other good instructions, with the leaf given from heaven.”


Chronicon Scotorum






“The sky appeared to be on fire on the night of the Kalends 1st of January.”


Annals of Ulster





“And the same year after Easter, about the gang-days or before, appeared the star that men in book-Latin call “cometa”: some men say that in English it may be termed “hairy star”; for that there standeth off from it a long gleam of light, whilom on one side, whilom on each.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle






“The same year, about the time of Rogation Sunday, a comet appeared, which was named in the English language Berete Sterre.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster






“On May 12 a comet, with a tail 100 cubits long, appeared near the feet of Ursa Major; it went towards the east.  It passed by the vicinity of β Leonis to α Bootis and Serpens, etc.  On July 5 it had disappeared.”


A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy

George F. Chambers

Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1889

Page 570

citing: Ma tuoan-lin; Williams, 51; J. Asserius, Annales.






“A great windstorm on the feast of Martin, 11 Nov and it destroyed a large number of trees in the woods and carried away the oratories from their foundations, and the houses also.”


Annals of Ulster






“A comet appeared this year in the tail of Scorpio.  It lasted 12 weeks, and was followed by an extreme drought in April and May.”


A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy

Page 570

citing “Chronicon Andegavense”






“The Chinese saw a comet with a broad set of tails in the south-west after sunset on December 28, recorded in Hsin Thang Shu and Wen Hsien Thung Khao.  It remained visible in Sagittarius, between φ Sagittari and β Capricorni, until December 31.  The comet ‘turned into a cloud’ before fading away.  Hsi suggested that this was a nova, but the Chinese definitely record the presence of tails.”


Early Sungrazer Comets

Kenelm J. England

Journal of the British Astronomical Association

vol.112, no.1, p.13-28







“After several months of very bad weather the clouds went away, and on May 6 a comet was seen near ι and κ Ursae Majoris, with a tail 100 degrees long.  …  It was visible for 6 weeks, and its length gradually increased to 200 degrees (?). The clouds then hid it.”


A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy

Page 570

citing “Ma-tuoan-lin”

(Mă Duānlín)


Notes from Chambers:

“The length is incredible, though Gaubil gives the same. Gaubil's date is 895, but Pingre is sure that 893 was the year. Williams (p. 52) pronounces in favour of 893, but misquotes Pingre' in doing so.”






“A heavy snowfall and great scarcity.”


Annals of Ulster






“The Chinese annals record the appearance of three comets—one large and two smaller ones—at the same time, in the year 896 of our era. "They traveled together for three days. The little ones disappeared first, and then the large one." ”


Comets and Meteors

Daniel Kirkwood   

   Their phenomena in all ages; their mutual relations; and the theory of their origin.


Produced by sp1nd and the Online Distributed Proofreading

Team at http://www.pgdp.net 2012

page 51





 Around July


“With the sky being stormy, in the middle of the showers, lightning strikes, thunderclaps, a star, large like a bowl, appeared in the south-west and fell in the north-east.  Its colour was like that of a stork’s feather, and it made a sound like that of a flight of wild ducks.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A shower of blood fell in Ard Cianachta.”


Annals of Ulster






“In the summer of this year went the army, some into East-Anglia, and some into Northumbria; and those that were penniless got themselves ships, and went south over sea to the Seine.  The enemy had not, thank God, entirely destroyed the English nation; but they were much more weakened in these three years by the disease of cattle, and most of all of men; so that many of the mightiest of the king's thanes, that were in the land, died within the three years.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle






November 14th  “In the year 286 (of the Hegira,) there was an earthquake in Egypt, on Wednesday, the 7th of the month Djolkaada, from midnight until morning, and the stars called Schuhub, (luminous meteors,) were in extraordinary commotion, going from east to west, and from north to south, in such a manner that no mortal could look at the heavens.”

Contributions towards a History of the Star-Showers of Former Times

pages 353-355



Elmacini Histor. Saracen., Arab. et Lat., op. Erpenii, p. 181

quoted by M. Fraehn, L'Institut, No. 252, p. 350






“A rainy year.  Great scarcity affected the cattle.”


Annals of Ulster





 20th April


“There appeared a star as large as a harbour-boat (loaded with) with 200 bushels.  Its color was yellow.  In front it was thin, but behind it was big or large.  It went to the south-west.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine



Around December


“There appeared in the middle of the sky a big star, which sank slowly to the east while unwinding like a belt.  The sinuous trace of the light condensed and attached itself to the sky.  In an instant, it disappeared.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“The whole hemisphere was filled with those meteors called falling stars, the ninth of Dhu’lhajja, (288th year of the Hegira,) [A. D. 901, November 25th , from midnight till morning, to the great surprise of the beholders, in Egypt.”


Contributions towards a History of the Star-Showers of Former Times

pages 353-355



Modern Part of the Universal History

8vo. Vol. 2, p. 281. London 1780. (Hist. of the Arabs.)







 “In the month Djolkaada of the year 289, (of the Hegira,) died king Ibrahim ben Ahmet, and during the same night were seen great numbers of stars, which moved, as if they had been darted through the atmosphere, from a culminating point, and rushed down on the right and left, like rain.  On account of this phenomenon, this year was called the year of stars.”


Contributions towards a History of the Star-Showers of Former Times

pages 353-355



Conde: Hist. de la Domination des Maures en Espagne, I, 397

quoted by M. Fraehn, (as above,) who states that the date is the 24th or 25th October, A. D. 902.

First quoted in part by Von Hammer

Comptes Rend. Acad. Sci., 1837, I, 293.






“About February an extraordinary star was seen below some stars in Cainelopardus. After a little while it passed to χ Draconis. On March 2 a shooting star touched it.”


A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy

Page 571


citing: Calvisius, Opus Ckronologicum. Francofurti-ad-Oderam, 1620





 Around the spring equinox


“The day after the emperor came from Foung-tsiang (Chen-si), there appeared a star as large as the moon, which emerged from the vapors from the side of the east and sank to the west.  It made a noise like thunder.


It left a train which traversed the middle of the sky obliquely, and this train lasted 3 nights and disappeared.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine





 30th June


“At the second hour of night, it was raining: a sombre time.  There was seen a star 200 degrees long; which appeared in the east and travelled to the south-west.  The front part was black.  The tail was red.  The middle was white.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“At about the time of the birth of the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus a brilliant comet showed its rays in the east.  It lasted 40 days and 40 nights.”


A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy

Page 571


citing: Leo Grammaticus, Chronographia, p. 483






“A comet appeared on the thirteenth day before the calends of November.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle





 12th April


“In the night, there was seen a big star which came out of the middle of the sky; it was as big as 5 bushels.  It sank toward the north-west to a distance of close to 100 degrees and stopped.


Above it was a tuft of stars shining like a red-yellow flame, 50 degrees long, which went along like serpents do.  All these little stars were moving, and in the south-east they were falling like rain.  In one instant, they disappeared, and after this there was seen a whitish-blue vapour, similar to a bamboo bundle, whose top-point was the middle of the sky, and whose brilliance fatigued the eyes.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“There appeared a comet for nearly half a year, portending perhaps an exceeding effusion of blood and slaughter, which occurred shortly after in a battle between the Danes and the English, wherein many nobles of both peoples fell.”


Flowers of History

Roger of Wendover






“The year of the mortality.”


Annals of Ulster






“A murrain of cows.”


Annals of Ulster






“Two suns ran together on the same day, i.e. on the day before the Nones of May 6 May.”


Annals of Ulster





 17th December


“During the night, there was seen a shooting star as large as one tenth of a bushel, approximately. …  Its light occupied more than 30 degrees.  Noise was heard like thunder.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A dark and rainy year.  A comet appeared.”


Annals of Ulster






“A dark and rainy year.”


Annals of Ulster







“Snow and extreme cold and unnatural ice this year, so that the chief lakes and rivers of Ireland were passable, and causing death to cattle, birds and salmon. Horrible portents also: the heavens seemed to glow with comets; and a mass of fire appeared with thunder in the west beyond Ireland, and it went eastwards over the sea.”


The Annals of Ulster



The fact that “the heavens seemed to glow with comets” (plural), would suggest that it was a troop of smaller rocks, for a swarm of true comets would be ghastly, especially moving eastward (close proximity to earth).

This would demonstrate that smaller rocks can take on the appearance of comets (discharge from themselves, causing streamers to flow from themselves, becoming comet-like – with “long-flowing hair” maybe).






“A mortality of cattle and birds, such that the sound of a blackbird or a thrush was scarcely heard that year.”


Annals of Inisfallen

translated by Seán Mac Airt

Electronic edition compiled by Beatrix Färber

Funded by University College, Cork and

Professor Marianne McDonald via the CELT Project

Proof corrections by Pádraig Bambury, Stephen Beechinor, Julianne Nyhan






“A great flood in this year, so that the water reached the Abbot's Fort of Cluain-mic-Nois, and to the causeway of the Monument of the Three Crosses.”


Annals of the Four Masters


Perhaps the flooding was from melting the unusually thick snowpack from the previous year?

The problem with this is that The Annals of Ulster and the Annals of the Four Masters don’t match in their dating that well.  The error is certainly in the Annals of the Four Masters.  Discrepancies between the two annals are between 3 and 5 years, for accounts in this time.






“A year of scarcity and hunger.”


Annals of Inisfallen






“A great plague in Ireland.”


Chronicon Scotorum






“An immense aerolite fell into the river (a branch of the Tiber) at Narni, in Italy.  It projected three or four feet above the surface of the water.”


Comets and Meteors

page 59


































…  Then the ancient dusk-scather

Found the great treasure standing all open,

He who flaming and fiery flies to the barrows,

Naked war-dragon, nightly escapeth

Encompassed with fire; men under heaven

Widely beheld him.


’Tis said that he looks for

The hoard in the earth, where old he is guarding

The heathenish treasure; he’ll be nowise the better.


So three-hundred winters the waster of peoples

Held upon earth that excellent hoard-hall,

Till the forementioned earlman angered him bitterly.



The stranger began then to vomit forth fire,

To burn the great manor; the blaze then glimmered

For anguish to earlmen, not anything living

Was the hateful air-goer willing to leave there.


The war of the worm widely was noticed,

The feud of the foeman afar and anear,

How the enemy injured the earls of the Geatmen,

Harried with hatred: back he hied to the treasure,

To the well-hidden cavern ere the coming of daylight.


He had circled with fire the folk of those regions,

With brand and burning; in the barrow he trusted,

In the wall and his war-might: the weening deceived him.



The cave under earth, not far from the ocean,

The anger of eddies, which inward was full of

Jewels and wires: a warden uncanny,

Warrior weaponed, wardered the treasure,

Old under earth; no easy possession

For any of earth-folk access to get to.



Horrible earth-drake, harassed with sorrow:


The round-twisted monster was permitted no longer

To govern the ring-hoards, but edges of war-swords

Mightily seized him, battle-sharp, sturdy

Leavings of hammers, that still from his wounds

The flier-from-farland fell to the earth

Hard by his hoard-house, hopped he at midnight

Not e’er through the air, nor exulting in jewels

Suffered them to see him: but he sank then to earthward.



Translated From The Heyne-Socin Text

By: Lesslie Hall, Ph. D. (J.H.U.)

Professor of English and History in The College of William and Mary

D.C. Heath & co., publishers

Boston, New York, Chicago, 1892

(ebook) Produced by David Starner, Dainis Millers and the Online

Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net












When earth beneath the weight of evil groaned,

No teacher, guide, or chief her children owned.


Reckless of God, they felt no righteous awe,

And cast aside the dictates of his law.


The fiend accursed his banner wide unfurl’d,

And shook his pinions (“wings”) joyous o’er the world.


Exulting laughed haughty Ahriman,

And marked creation struggling in his chain.


Twas in that dark despairing hour, that God,

To helpless man his saving mercy shewed.



A cloud like to an eagle’s pinion rue.


So thick a gloom its gathering shadow spread,

The sun is veiled, the day grows dark and dread.


And from that cloud no rain, but, strange to tell,

Lions and tigers, wolves and dragons fell,


The crocodile and panther of the waste,

All that is horrible, misshapen, vast,


The writhing serpent and the bird obscene,

All things detested that the eye has seen,


Or fancy feigned, and still with gathering storm,

Fast falls each savage shape, and grisly form.



… Lo! a hill descends from upper air,

And from its aide, beams forth refulgent light,

Dispels the clouds and breaks the gloom of night.


Then comes a hurrying blast, before whose breadth

Fast fly those grim aspects and shapes of death.


Opening of The Book of Zoroaster

(not to be confused with the Avesta)

Zartushi-Behram   1277

translated by: E. B. Eastwick, Esq., from

Wilson, John

The Parsi Religion

Bombay: American Mission Press, 1843, pp. 477 ff.


This portion is probably based on the 9th century Writings of Zadspram

Sourced from Avesta.org


Some have speculated that various medieval middle-Persian works, including this one, were based on a (hypothetical) work called Khwaday-Namag (“Book of Lords”), which would have been written under the reign of Khosrow I Anushirvan (r. 531-579)











Next is an excerpt from The Seeress’s Prophecy, The Voluspa”, in the Norse Poetic Edda:



From the east there pours | through poisoned valleys

With swords and daggers | the river Fearful.


Northward a hall | in Dark-of-moon-Plains

Of gold there rose | for Sindri's race;

And in Never-Cold | another stood,

Where the giant Brimir | his beer-hall had.


A hall I saw, | far from the sun,

On Corpse-Strand, | the doors face north,

Venom drops | through the smoke-vent down,

For around the walls | do serpents wind.


I saw there wading | through rivers wild

Treacherous men | and murderers too,

And workers of ill | with the wives of men;

There Nithhogg [Dread-Biter] sucked | the blood of the slain,

And the wolf tore men; | would you know yet more?


The giantess old | in Ironwood sat,

In the east, and bore | the brood of Fenrir;

Among these one | in monster's guise

Was soon to steal | the sun from the sky.


There feeds he full | on the flesh of the dead,

And the home of the gods | he reddens with gore;

Dark grows the sun, | in all future summers,

Come mighty storms: | would you know yet more?


On a hill there sat, | and smote on his harp,

Eggther the joyous, | the giants' warder;

Above him the rooster | in the bird-wood crowed,

Fair and red | did Fjalar stand.


Then to the gods | crowed Golden-comb,

He wakes the heroes | in Othin's hall;

And beneath the earth | does another crow,

The rust-red bird | in the halls of Hel.


Now Garm howls loud | before Gnipa-cave,

The fetters will burst, | and the wolf run free;

Much do I know, | and more can see

Of the fate of the gods, | the mighty in fight.


Brothers shall fight | and fell each other,

And sisters' sons | shall kinship stain;

Hard is it on earth, | with mighty whoredom;

Axe-time, sword-time, | shields are sundered,

Wind-time, wolf-time, | ere the world falls;

Nor ever shall men | each other spare.



From the east comes Hrym | with shield held high;

In giant-wrath | does the serpent writhe;

O'er the waves he twists, | and the tawny eagle

Gnaws corpses screaming; | Naglfar is loose.



Hither there comes | the son of Hlothyn,

The bright snake gapes | to heaven above;

Against the serpent | goes Othin's son.


In anger smites | the warder of earth,--

Forth from their homes | must all men flee;-

Nine paces fares | the son of Fjorgyn,

And, slain by the serpent, | fearless he sinks.


The sun turns black, | earth sinks in the sea,

The hot stars down | from heaven are whirled;

Fierce grows the steam | and the life-feeding flame,

Till fire leaps high | about heaven itself.



The gods in Ithavoll | meet together,

Of the terrible girdler | of earth they talk,

And the mighty past | they call to mind,

And the ancient runes | of the Ruler of Gods.




More fair than the sun, | a hall I see,

Roofed with gold, | on Gimle it stands;

There shall the righteous | rulers dwell,

And happiness ever | there shall they have.


There comes on high, | all power to hold,

A mighty lord, | all lands he rules.


From below the dragon | dark comes forth,

Nithhogg flying | from Dark-of-moon-Hills;

The bodies of men on | his wings he bears,

The serpent bright: | but now must I sink.


Excerpts from the opening of The Poetic Edda

The original source masterpiece of Norse mythology

translated by Henry Adams Bellows, 1936

Princeton university press

American Scandinavian Foundation, New York


Enriched with Norse term-translation from Carolyne Larrington’s edition

Oxford, 2014













Next is part of The Prophesy of Merlin, part of an Arthurian fiction, written in 1136, but set in a very specific time-frame: just before and right up to and including the Justinian Plague. “Arthur” “dies” in either 537 or 542 in the narratives.  Merlin’s prophesy is set in a time shortly before this.


“Men shall be drunk with wine, and, regardless of heaven, shall be intent upon the earth.  From them shall the stars turn away their faces, and confound their usual course.  Corn will wither at their malign aspects; and there shall fall no dew from heavenThe roots and branches will change their places, and the novelty of the thing shall pass for a miracle.  The brightness of the sun shall fade at the amber of Mercury, and horror shall seize the beholders.


… The seas shall rise up in the twinkling of an eye, and the dust of the ancients shall be restored. The winds shall fight together with a dreadful blast, and their sound shall reach the stars.”


The Prophesy of Merlin

History of the Kings of Britain

Geoffrey of Monmouth

Book 7









“Just as winter was approaching, there was a fearful scarcity of water, so that some rivers were dried up, and fountains too, which had hitherto abounded with copious springs. But afterwards they all were fully restored.


And on the second of December, as evening was coming on, all that remained of Nicomedia was destroyed by an earthquake, and no small portion of Nicaea.”


Roman History

Ammianus Marcellinus

Book 22

Chapter 13




“… the fire which burned the temple and the statues had descended from heaven, and that on that night, as the fire came down, it had appeared to some people in the countryside.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“In this period, the waters of Shiloh vanished for 15 years. In this period too fire fell from the sky and burned the city of Balbek …”


Chronicle of Michael the Syrian

page 105-106






“There was a sign from the sun, the likes of which had never been seen or reported before.   The sun became dark, and the darkness lasted for 18 months.  Each day, it shone for about 4 hours, but this light was only a feeble shadow.  Everyone declared that the sun would never recover its full brilliance again.


The fruits did not ripen, and the wine tasted like sour grapes.”


Syrian bishop John of Ephesus

Reported in:

Chronicle of Michael the Syrian


535 – April/May


 “Because of drought, there was an imperial edict, which ordered that in the capital (Chang’ An), and in all the provinces, commanderies and districts, one should bury the corpses.”


535 – June/July


“[There was] great drought.  [The government] had to provide water at the city gates [of Ch’ang-an] and the hall gates [of the palace] as well as the gates of the government offices.”


537 – March


“… because there had been hail and drought in nine provinces, there was a great famine and as the people fled [in search of food] I begged [the Emperor] that the [state] granaries should be open to give relief.”


Bei Shi (The History of the Northern Dynasties)






“… The Moon too, even when her orb is full, is empty of her natural splendour. Strange has been the course of the year thus far.  We have had a winter without storms, a spring without mildness, and a summer without heat. Whence can we look for harvest, since the months which should have been maturing the corn have been chilled by Boreas?  How can the blade open if rain, the mother of all fertility, is denied to it?  These two influences, prolonged frost and unseasonable drought, must be adverse to all things that grow.  …”


Roman statesman Flavius Cassiodorus

The letters of Cassiodorus.




“A great and terrible comet appeared in the sky at evening-time for one hundred days.”


The Syriac Chronicle known as that of Zachariah of Mitylene






Fire appeared in the sky in the shape of a spear, from north to west.  On Monday 16 April, there was a frightening earthquake that caused no damage.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor




“… Such fearful things and more fearful things are coming; for in the year four, on the first Sabbath, which is the Sabbath before the feast of unleavened bread, the heavens above us were covered with stormy (?) clouds, brought by the east winds, and instead of the usual rain and moistening water dropped upon the earth a powder composed of ashes and dust by the commandment of God.  And it showed itself upon stones and fell upon walls; and discerning men were in fear and trepidation and anxiety, and instead of the joy of the Passover they were in sorrow, because all the things that are written had been fulfilled against us on account of our sins.  Now it was the twenty-eighth year of this king.”


The Syriac Chronicle known as that of Zachariah of Mitylene

Book 12, chapter 5

chapter 5, entitled The Fifth Chapter Treats Of The Powder, Consisting Of Ashes, Which Fell From Heaven







563 - October


“In October of this year, a riot among the people occurred in the quarter of Pittakia, and the emperor punished a great many.  In November there was a drought and water became scarce, resulting in many fights around the fountains.  (Since) August a north wind had blown and none from the south. Ships could not reach Constantinople so Eutychios, the patriarch, ordered a litany to [the quarter of) Jerusalem, that is to St Diomedes.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor


563 - October


“… Moreover a star which certain call a comet, with a ray like a sword, appeared over that country through a whole year, and the sky seemed to be on fire and many other signs were seen….”


History of the Franks

Gregory of Tours

Book 4, 31




Maybe Geoffrey of Monmouth, in writing his fictional Prophesy of Merlin, set in this very distant and specific time-frame, was drawing from the same chronicles we have at our disposal today, while just repackaging them with colourful characters and dramatic storylines?  He must have been aware of the conditions in the 500s, at the very least.  Maybe he even had sources unavailable to us today.









“A star of marvellous brightness was seen shining throughout the whole world.”


The Annals of Wales




“A bright comet was seen in the months of September and October.”


The Annals of Ulster




“In these days also appeared a comet for three months, and each day it shone in the morning with a splendour equal to the sun.”

Flowers of History

Roger of Wendover




“In the year of our Lord 678, which is the eighth of the reign of Egfrid, in the month of August, appeared a star, called a comet, which continued for three months, rising in the morning, and sending forth, as it were, a tall pillar of radiant flame.”


Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England




“ … the monastery of Coldingiham was destroyed by fire from heaven.”


Anglo-Saxon Chronicle




“Bishop Wilfrid, while preaching the Gospel to the people, not only delivered them from the misery of eternal damnation, but also from a terrible calamity of temporal death. For no rain had fallen in that district for three years before his arrival in the province, whereupon a grievous famine fell upon the people and pitilessly destroyed them … ”


Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England




“Beginning of the mortality of children in the month of October.”


The Annals of Ulster




“A great plague in Britain, in which Cadwaladr son of Cadwallon dies.”


The Annals of Wales









“A great drought came upon the country.”


Bede's Ecclesiastical History of England




“There was much drought and earthquakes occurred in several places so that mountains were joined to one another in the desert of Saba and villages were swallowed up by the earth.  …  In the month of June a sign appeared in the sky to the north.


“In this year a sign appeared in the north and in some places dust fell down from heaven.  There was also an earthquake at the Caspian Gates.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor






“Fiery visions were seen in the sky on the first of January, such as no men of that age had ever beheld.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster




“In this year a great comet appeared in Syria.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor










“There were seen stars falling from heaven, so that all who beheld them thought that the end of the world was at hand.”


Flowers of History

Matthew of Westminster




“Snow of unusual depth so that nearly all the cattle of the whole of Ireland perished, and the world afterwards was parched by unusual drought.”


The Annals of Ulster









“… in the month of March the stars were seen falling from heaven all at once, so that all the observers thought it was the end of the present world.  Then there was a great drought, so much so that sources dried up.”


The Chronicle of Theophanes Confessor




“A great snowfall which lasted almost three months.  A great scarcity, and famine.  An abnormally great drought.  A bloody flux throughout Ireland.  Three showers fell in Crích Muiredaig in Inis Eogain, i.e. a shower of pure silver, a shower of wheat, and a shower of honey.”


The Annals of Ulster




“A horrible and wonderful sign was seen in the stars at night.  A shortage of bread.”


The Annals of Ulster










“A comet appeared this year in the tail of Scorpio. It lasted 12 weeks, and was followed by an extreme drought in April and May.”


A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy




“The Chinese saw a comet with a broad set of tails in the south-west after sunset on December 28, recorded in Hsin Thang Shu and Wen Hsien Thung Khao.  It remained visible in Sagittarius, between φ Sagittari and β Capricorni, until December 31.  The comet ‘turned into a cloud’ before fading away.  Hsi suggested that this was a nova, but the Chinese definitely record the presence of tails.”


Early Sungrazer Comets








902, 912  +  1199


This next account is a little convoluted, referring to 3 distinct events from 2 witnesses, 300 years apart.  It is from ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī, in 1199, in Egypt, reporting luminous meteor showers, followed by the Nile refusing to rise to water the crops, inducing famine, and subsequent chaos, throughout all districts of Egypt, in 1200.

From the experience of the famine of 1200, ʿAbd al-Laṭīf, was driven to investigate the causes of failures of the Nile.  At the end of his list of various reasons why the Nile might fail, he cites similar circumstances in Egypt, in the early 900s.

He begins by quoting the witness, Ahmad ibn Yusuf, in 902/912 who reported significant meteor showers and subsequent drying up of the Nile.  The witness to this correlation, Ahmad ibn Yusuf, in 902/912, is just as puzzled as ʿAbd al-Laṭīf is in 1200.  Ahmad ibn Yusuf, in 902/912, quotes from the Astronomical Aphorisms of Ptolemy to offer a possible explanation.

So, again, this is an account, from 1200 AD, which starts out by quoting from an account from around 900 AD, which starts out by quoting from the Astronomical Aphorisms of Ptolemy:



ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī, around 1200 AD:


“I will here add what I have seen in a commentator (Ahmad ibn Yusuf - 835–912) on the Astronomical Aphorisms of Ptolemy, the last of which begins thus:”


Ahmad ibn Yusuf, in the early 900s, first quoting Ptolemy:


“Shooting stars indicate dryness of the air; if they all go towards the same quarter of the heavens, they foreshadow winds which will blow from that quarter, but if they scatter in all parts of the heavens they indicate the drying up of the water, disturbances in the atmosphere, and the incursions of armies moving in various directions.”


Astronomical Aphorisms of Ptolemy



“I remember that in the year 290 [of the Hegira, beginning Dec.  4, A.  D.  902] there were seen in Egypt burning meteors which scattered themselves through the sky and filled the whole expanse; they caused great terror and increased continually.  A short time after, a great dearth of water was felt in this country: the Nile rose only thirteen cubits, and violent disturbances arose which caused the ruin of the dynasty of the Toulounis in Egypt. 


In the year 300 [beginning Aug.  17, A.  D.  912] the same phenomena were seen in all parts of the sky; the flow of the Nile was bad, and there were troubles and agitations in the country.”



(back to ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī in 1199/1200)


“These are doubtless very strong signs, but they are common to all regions; and not peculiar to Egypt.


 We have seen a recurrence of the same phenomena in the present year 596, [beginning Oct.  22, 1199.] At the beginning of the year, the stars were seen coursing through the heavens, and afterward the water was very low.  During the same year the sovereign of Egypt was dethroned by his uncle Melic-aladel.


In this state of affairs, the year 597 [beginning Oct.  22, 1200.] announced itself as a monster whose fury was to destroy all the resources of life and all means of subsistence.


There was no longer any hope of the rising of the Nile; and consequently the price of food had already risen; the provinces were desolate by drought: the inhabitants foresaw an inevitable famine, and the fear of famine excited tumultuous movements among them. 


The inhabitants of the villages and the countryside withdrew to the main cities of the provinces: a large number emigrated to Syria, the Magreb, the Hedjaz and Yemen, where they dispersed from side to side, like the descendants of Saba.  There were also an infinite multitude who sought a retreat in the cities of Misr and Cairo, where they experienced a terrible famine and a terrible mortality: for when the sun entered the sign of the ram, the air became corrupted, the plague and a deadly contagion began to make itself felt; and the poor, pressed by the ever-increasing famine, ate carrion, corpses, dogs, excrement, and animal dung.


They went further, and went so far as to eat little children.  It was not uncommon to surprise people with roasted or boiled little children.  The commandant of the city guard burned alive those who committed this crime, as well as those who ate such a dish.


I myself saw a little child roasted in a basket.  They brought it to the provost, and at the same time they brought a man and a woman who, it was said, were the father and mother of the child: the provost condemned them to be burned alive.


In the month of Ramadhan, a corpse was found at Misr from which all the flesh had been removed to eat it, and which had remained with its legs tied, like a sheep that cooks bind to cook it.  Galen unnecessarily desired to obtain the sight of such a skeleton, and there is no means which he did not employ to achieve it; this spectacle has not been less sought after by all those who have devoted themselves to the study of anatomy.


When the poor began to eat human flesh, the horror and astonishment caused by such extraordinary meals were such that these crimes were the subject of all conversations, and this subject was never exhausted; but afterwards we got used to it so much, and there was conceived so much of a taste for these detestable dishes, that we saw men make them their ordinary food, eat them as a treat, and even stock up on them: while imagining various ways of preparing this flesh; and the custom, once introduced, spread throughout the provinces, so that there was no part of Egypt where examples were not seen. 


Then it caused no further surprises; the horror which we had at first had vanished entirely; it was talked about and heard about as something indifferent and ordinary.  One day I saw a woman wounded in the head, whom commoners were dragging through a market: they had stopped her while she was eating a small roasted child who had been seized with her.  The people who were in the market paid no attention to this spectacle, and went about their own business: I saw no sign of astonishment or horror in them, which caused me a much greater surprise than the crime itself.  This indifference did not arise, in truth, until the sight of these cruelties had already struck their senses a great number of times; so that they were among the things of which one had contracted a habit, and which no longer had the right to cause an impression of surprise. 


Two days before, I had seen a child very near the age of puberty, who had been found roasted; two young people had been seized with this corpse, who confessed that it was they who had killed a child, had roasted it, and had already eaten a part of it.


It happened one night, shortly after the hour of prayer which is done when the sun has totally disappeared from above the horizon, that a young slave played with a newly weaned child, who belonged to a wealthy private individual.  While the child was at his side, a beggar seized the moment when this slave had her eyes turned away from him; she split his belly open, and began to eat the raw flesh.


Many women have told me that people threw themselves on them to tear their children from them, and that they were obliged to use all their efforts to save them from these kidnappers.  Seeing one day a woman holding a newly weaned and plump little child, I admired this child, and I recommended that this woman take good care of it: on this occasion, she told me that, while she was walking on the edge of the canal, a vigorous man had thrown himself on her, and had made an effort to snatch her child from her; that she had found no other means of putting him to safety, than to throw herself to the ground, holding him under her, until a horseman, having come to pass, forced this man to get away from her: she added that this scoundrel eagerly watched for the opportunity to seize the first member of the child who came out from under her to eat it, and that the child had afterwards been ill from the tugging experienced by the contrary efforts which this ferocious kidnapper and she also had made, one to tear him away, the other to hold him back.


We saw the children of the poor, either young or old, who had no one left to take care of and keep them, scattered in all the districts of the city and in the narrowest streets, like locusts that have descended on the countryside.  The poor people, men and women, stalked these unfortunate children, kidnapped them and ate them.  The culprits are only caught in blatant offense rarely, and when they are not well on their guard.


It was most commonly women who were seized with these proofs of their crime: a circumstance which, in my opinion, only came about because women were less clever than men, and could not flee and evade searches, with such promptitude.  Thirty women were burned at Misr in a few days, none of whom admitted to having eaten several children.  I saw one brought to the provost, having a roasted child hanging from her neck.  They gave her more than two hundred lashes, to extract from her the confession of her crime, without being able to obtain any answer; one would even have said that she had lost all the faculties which characterize human nature.  So they pulled her violently to take her away, and she died in the square.


When we had burned an unfortunate person convinced [convicted?] of having eaten human flesh, we found his corpse devoured the next morning: eaten all the more willingly, since his flesh was all roasted, they were exempt from cooking it. 


This fury to eat each other became so common among the poor, that most perished in this way.  Some rich people, of an honest condition, also shared this detestable barbarism; and among them, some saw themselves reduced by want, others did so out of greed and to satisfy their taste.


A man told us that he had a friend who was reduced to poverty by the calamity of that year; that this friend invited him to come and eat at his place one day, as he used to do before; that having gone there, he found gathered there a troop of people whose exterior announced only misery: in front of them was a fricassee where there was a lot of meat; they had no bread to eat with this stew.  This gave him some suspicion; and having gone to the toilets, he saw there a store filled with human bones and fresh flesh.  Seized with terror, he hastened to flee.


Among these scoundrels there were some who used all kinds of traps to surprise men and lure them into their homes under false pretences.  This was what happened to three of the doctors who frequented me.


One informed me that his father having gone out, had never reappeared.


The other was invited by a woman who gave him two pieces of silver, to come with her to a patient who belonged to him: this woman having led him in some narrow paths, the doctor became worried, and refused to follow her; he even reproached her very harshly: then, without claiming the two pieces of silver, she withdrew hastily.


The third was requested by a man to accompany him to a patient who lived, he said, in the main street.  While walking, this man gave alms of a few small coins; and he said [this passage from the Alcoran]: “It is today that one will receive retribution, and a double reward for the good that one has done; that those who act, act for such a reward”.  This happened again so often that the doctor began to suspect some bad design.  However, the good opinion he had of this man outweighed his worries; moreover, the desire for gain carried him along: he therefore allowed himself to be introduced into a half-ruined hotel.  This aspect increased his fear, and he stopped on the steps, while the man leading him took the front and had the door opened for him.  His comrade then coming to meet him said to him: "After having waited so long, are you at least bringing some good game?".  These words threw terror in the heart of the doctor; he rushed into a stable through a window which, to his happiness, he came across by chance.  The master of the stable came to him and asked him what had happened to him: but the doctor was careful to confess it to him, not daring to trust him either.  Then this man said to him: "I know your adventure; the people who live in this house take the men and kill them”.


In Atfih, jugs filled with human flesh were found at a grocer's, covered with water and salt: they asked him for what reason he had amassed such a large quantity; and his answer was that he had feared that, if the scarcity continued, the men would become too thin.


A large number of the poor had withdrawn to the Island [Rawda], and hid themselves there in mud huts, from which they spied on passers-by to kidnap them.  They were informed of this, and they wanted to put them to death; but they fled.  An enormous quantity of human bones was found in their huts.  I believe from a sure man that there were four hundred skulls. 





Nothing was more common than features of this nature; and it would be difficult to find throughout the expanse of Egypt, even among those who live in seclusion in monasteries, or among women who spend their lives in their apartments, someone who has not been an eyewitness to such atrocities.  It's still something that was known to everyone, that the tombs were searched to take out the corpses, and eat them, or sell the flesh.


This dreadful calamity just described, spread throughout Egypt: there was not a single place where the custom of eating men was not extremely common.  Syene, Kous, the Fayyoum, Mahallèh, Alexandria, Damietta, and all other parts of Egypt, witnessed these scenes of horror.  A merchant of mine, a man you can count on, having come from Alexandria, told me a lot of facts of this kind which had passed before his eyes; and what he tells me, most remarkable, is that he had seen five heads of children in the same cauldron, cooked with the most exquisite spices.


Enough on this subject, on which, although I much extended, it seems to me that I was still very short.”


Relation de l'Egypte

ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī

Translated and enriched with historical notes and critiques by:

M. Silvestre De Sacy

Paris, 1810, 4to. book 2, chap. 2, p. 340.

First quoted in part by M. Fraehn, (sup.)

The passages occur at pp. 117 and 118 of the Tubingen edition of 1789.


Cited in Contributions towards a History of the Star-Showers of Former Times

pages 353-355






So, even though Ahmad ibn Yusuf, in 912, is drawing upon a work of astrology (the Aphorisms of Ptlolemy), it is only because he saw similar correlations between events in the sky and on the ground himself, and thought it might be of interest.  And the same goes for ʿAbd al-Laṭīf in 1200.  He is giving us an eye-witness account, while adding what Ptolemy spoke of the same correlations.

Even if The Astronomical Aphorisms of Ptolemy is a work of astrology, it might still preserve an understanding of how bombardment events might be foreseen, and what their consequences might entail from their visible character.  Here is the version which Ahmad ibn Yusuf originally drew from:


“Fiery apparitions show want of rain, or a dry air, which if they are carried or moved unto one part of heaven, they declare wind to come from that quarter of heaven: but if those apparitions are carried diversely, or into sundry parts, they show scarcity of rain or waters, the elements often troubled, and the incursions of armies.


Comets, whose distance is eleven signs from the Sun, if they appear in angles, the king of some kingdom or one of the principal men of the kingdom will die; but if they appear in a succedent house, his treasures are like to do well; yet shall the king or kingdom change their governor. If they appear in a cadent or obscure house, diseases, and sudden deaths will succeed. If they move from the west toward the east, a foreign enemy shall invade several kingdoms and countries: if the comet move not, the enemy shall be provincial.”



If a comet is moving west to east, this would be contrary to how we observe objects move in the sky (east to west), which would indicate a close-proximity - a motion visible to the human eye.  The comets we have seen in our lifetimes just sit there, and rise and set like the sun do.  Right?

So, this book on astrology does confirm what we know would be true of dangerously close space rocks putting on a show, and presenting a true danger.

Also, maybe if a space rock is seen to move west-east, this might not necessarily be a comet, but a close asteroid, taking on the appearance of a comet, or bits of a broken-off comet within a stream.

The more pertinent claim here, is, of course, significant meteor streams inducing “scarcity of rain or waters”.

If ʿAbd al-Laṭīf would’ve read the Prophesy of Merlin, written shortly before his time, he would’ve surely been intrigued by the same assertion concerning celestial disturbances inducing significant drought.









“In the year 599, on the night preceding Sunday the last day of the month Moharrem, [October 19, A.  D.  1202,] the stars rushed across the heavens from east to west, and glided to the right and left, like grasshoppers in a field.  This continued until dawn.  The inhabitants cried out with terror, and fervently implored the mercy of the Most High.  A similar occurrence happened in the year of the holy mission of the Prophet, [A.  D.  611,] as well as in the year 241, [A.  D.  855.]


During this period (around 1202), the region suffered various catastrophic afflictions.  The Yemen was ravaged by dust storms, heralded at Mecca by extraordinary celestial phenomena, while Taif was struck by virulent plague.”


Sufis of Andalusia

The Ruh al-quds and al-Durrat al-fakhirah of Ibn ‘Arabi

Translated by R.W.J. Austin

School of Oriental Studies, University of Durham

Beshara publications 2002

Page 38

Footnote = “Futuhat, II, p. 450”






“On–March CE 1204 at night, red clouds (chìyún) appeared within white vapors, crossing the sky from the east to the west.  After that, conflagrations occupied the country for eight days.  Thus, astrologers regarded this as a symbol of fire.”


Records of sunspot and aurora during CE 960–1279

in the Chinese chronicle of the Sòng dynasty

Hisashi Hayakawa

Harufumi Tamazawa

Akito Davis Kawamura

Hiroaki Isobe

Earth, Planets and Space (2015) 67:82


Citing: “Sòngshǐ, Five Elements II b, p. 1413”




Bhutan, 1206


 “… in 1206, while he [Drogon Tsangpa Gyare] was on his way to establish a large monastic center, as he and his followers reached Namgyi-phu, nine dragons (later said to be the manifestations of nine Indian Mahasiddhas) reared up from the earth and soared overhead, roaring like thunder, while flowers miraculously rained down.


Thus, the lineage became known as the Dragon Sect or the Drukpa, 'Druk' meaning Dragon in Tibetan.  The monastery established there, Druk Sewa Jangchub Ling (The Awakening Place of the Ultimate Dragon Lineage), remained for a long time as the principal monastery of the Drukpa lineage, and the place came to be known as 'Namdruk' [‘sky dragon’].  Some one thousand huts were built within a year.”



Founder of the Lineage




 “Tsangpa Gyare was a famous teacher whose teachings were sometimes attended by as many as 5,000 people at a time.  It was reported that he had 8,800 eminent followers, of whom 280 were enlightened yogis.  His lineage became famous for the yogic asceticism of its adherents and the profundity of its spiritual teachings.


Amongst Tsangpa Gyare's students, Gyalwa Go-tsang-pa spread the Drukpa tradition in western Tibet and his followers came to be known as the Upper Drukpa School.  The followers of Choje Lo-repa, another of his students, branched out to form the Lower Drukpa School.  Onray Dharma Senge started the Central Drukpa School and another disciple, Phajo Drugom Zhigpo (1184 - 1251), left for Bhutan following the command of Tsangpa Gyare who instructed him to go south of Tibet.  He founded the first Drukpa monasteries in Bhutan at Phachok Deng and Tago.  Thus the Drukpa School spread far and wide.”



A Brief History of the Glorious Drukpa Kagyu Lineage




 “Since the 17th century, Bhutan's official name has been Druk Yul (country of the Drukpa Lineage, the Dragon People, or the Land of the Thunder Dragon, a reference to the country's dominant Buddhist sect); "Bhutan" appears only in English-language official correspondence.”


U.S. Library of Congress

Country Studies, Bhutan

Historical setting, Bhutan

Origins and Early Settlement, A.D. 600–1600




























“Contrary to popular belief, plague is still alive and well in a number of locations on four continents.  Over the past ten years at least 20,000 individuals (writing in 2001) have contracted the disease.  Four thousand have actually died from it in such places as Peru, Vietnam, China, India, southern Africa and Madagascar.


Millions of wild rodents in central Asia, south-west China, east Africa, the central Andes, the western USA, Brazil and central India still carry the plague bacillus.


Modern research on surviving wild-animal reservoirs of plague – monitored by the Plague Section of the US Center for Disease Control – has concluded that most plague outbreaks are caused by sudden and severe climatic changeMassively excessive rainfall is the most likely cause of plague spread, especially if it follows a drought, although a severe drought followed by normal weather could, theoretically, also spark an outbreak.”


Catastrophe: An Investigation into the Origins of the Modern World

David Keys

pages 25, 413












“Two stars did battle in the center of the sky, one of which fell.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A large star sank to the south, in the sea; with over a thousand smaller stars following.  For some time, the sound of thunder was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine




 “The fall of a star to the south of Canton.  When it fell, its color was red and it was as big as a sieve, and radiated a lively brilliance.  When it touched down on the ground, a great noise was heard, like rolling drums, and, in an instant, this noise ceased.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A stone or a mass of iron fell at Alexandria in Egypt, which was thought to be the effect of lightning.  Soyuti, whom De Sacy cites in his Chrestomacy Arabe, says:


“Lightning fell on a stone at the foot of the Rose Mountain (near Alexandria), which it burned.  The stone was taken, melted, and several ounces of iron were obtained from it, according to the red weight.”


Ueber Feuer-Meteore : und über die mit denselben herabgefallenen Massen

Concerning fire meteors: and the masses that fell with them

Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni


Chladni’s note here:

Gilbert's annalen der Physik, B. 50 y p. 294.




1293, 1294


“On 18 July 1293 in central England there was ‘a remarkable appearance in the sky about dawn’ and the following evening there was ‘continual thunder for the whole night with great lightning, ‘and finally there succeeded a thunderbolt.’  Then just a year later, on 20 July 1294, ‘there were coruscations of lightning destroying the corn whence ensued a great dearth and many died of hunger.’ ”


A Meteorological Chronology to AD 1450

Britton, C.E. 

Geophysical memoirs 70.

HMSO, London


Sourced from within:

New Light on the Black Death

Page 139






“In the fifth month of the year yih-wei (probably 1295) on a place near the lake at I hing, all of a sudden there were two dragons which, twisting around each other and fighting, both fell into the lake.  Their length had no sharp limits.


In a short space of time a heavy wind came riding on the water, which reached a height of more than a chang (ten ch'ih or feet). Then there fell from the sky more than ten fire balls, having the size of houses of ten divisions. The two dragons immediately ascended (to the sky), for Heaven, afraid that they might cause calamity, sent out sacred fire to drive them away.  Supposed that Heaven had been a little remiss for a moment, then within a hundred miles everything would have turned into gigantic torrents.


When I recently passed by boat the Peachgarden of Teh Ts'ing, those paddy fields were all scorched and black, some tens of acres in all.  Then we moored the boat to the bank and asked those villagers (for the reason).  They said:


'Yesterday noon there was a big dragon which fell from the sky.  Immediately he was burned by terrestrial fire and flew away.  For that what the dragons fear is fire’.”


The Dragon in China and Japan

pages 48-49


Sourced from:

New Light on the Black Death

page 137


Mike Baillie, in New Light on the Black Death, notes the similarity of this account with the upward-darting forked flames/plasma witnessed at the Tunguska air-burst.

He also noted the accord between this record in 1295 with this next one from Russia in 1296:






“A note concerning the fall of a gigantic meteorite in 1296 near Velikii Ustiug is interesting:


“On the second week at noon there suddenly appeared over the town of Ustiug a dark cloud and it was as dark as the night.  The people of the town upon seeing such a miracle were unable to comprehend what it was.  And after this there appeared great clouds rising from all four sides and from these clouds lightning kept flashing ceaselessly.


And it thundered over the town of Ustiug so strongly and horribly that it was impossible to hear people talk.  Even the ground seemed to sway continuously and shake as if terrified by this horror.  And clouds of fire arose and collided with one another; great heat arose from lightning and fiery thunder.”


According to this report which has been preserved to the present time, this meteorite which was called “stony swarm”, fell into the forest near the town of Velikii Ustiug.


For many centuries, up to the beginning of the current one, this event having had a religious tint imparted to it, was used by the church for its purposes.”


Principles of Meteoritics:

International Series of Monographs on Earth Sciences

Yevgeny Leonidovich Krinov

Pergamon Press, 1960

Translated from the Russian by Irene Vidziunas

Edited by Harrison Brown

Division of Geological Sciences, CalTec

Page 2






“Very stormy weather this year, with wind, snow, and lightning, and a great murrain of cattle and loss of life also.”


Annals of Inisfallen





 9th October


“There appeared a shooting star, red in color, with a tail about a degree in length: its light illuminated the ground.  A noise like thunder was heard.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






"In 1304 glowing stones fell in thunderous weather near Friedeburg an der Saale, and the same stones were coal-black and as hard as iron, and wherever they fell, they burned and narrowed the grass as if a coal fire had been there.”


Ueber Feuer-Meteore : und über die mit denselben herabgefallenen Massen

Concerning fire meteors: and the masses that fell with them

Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni


Citing: Spangenberg's Mansfeldiſcher Chronik





 19th September


“A shooting star appeared … with a tail about 3 degrees long.  It transformed into a white cloud … and rounded itself out like a wheel.”


Catalogue Général des Étoiles Filiantes

et des Autres Météores observés en Chine






“A fiery thunderbolt fell down from heaven on the Friars' convent at Roscommon and broke it, on the night of St. Stephen after Great Christmas.  Easter in March this year; destruction of men and cattle; very stormy weather.


Annals of Connaught

Electronic edition compiled by Pádraig Bambury

Proof corrections assistance: Ciara Hogan

2001, 2008

CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

A project of University College, Cork, Ireland







“Many afflictions in all parts of Ireland: very many deaths, famine and many strange diseases, murders, and intolerable storms as well.


Edward son of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, came to Ireland, landing on the coast of North Ulster with the men of three hundred ships, and his warlike slaughtering army caused the whole of Ireland to tremble, both Gael and Gall.  He began by harrying the choicest part of Ulster, burning Rathmore in Moylinny, and Dundalk, and killing their inhabitants.  He then burned Ardee and took the hostages and lordship of the whole Province without opposition; and the Ulstermen consented to his being proclaimed King of Ireland, and all the Gaels of Ireland agreed to grant him lordship and they called him King of Ireland.”


Annals of Connaught




The following are excerpts from the documentary  After Braveheart  1315  High King of Ireland:


Winter 1315/1316, the Scots are in a position where they are actually on the threshold of sweeping everything away in front of them.  You can’t stop the Scots.  They’ve had no serious reverse.


When the Bruces invaded Ireland, the only people, almost without exception, who supported them were the native Irish.  The reason being that if you were a member of the English colony in Ireland and you join the Bruces, that made you a traitor.  So, there was very little support for them in Anglo-Ireland.  Overwhelmingly, it became a war between the English in Ireland and the native Irish.  They only had the backing of the native Irish.


The Scots knew that overall victory in Ireland was far from certain.  Before long, they were faced with a devastating enemy that couldn’t be defeated in battle:



 “The heavens showed anger, as if the spirits of our fallen foe were imploring unearthly powers to pour their gathered stores on our unsheltered heads, threatening us with ruin.”


Maon – A Scottish solider




Heavy rain had been falling in May 1315, the month in which the Scots arrived in Ireland.  All summer long, the country was plagued by the worst weather seen across Europe in generations.  When the time came to gather what was left of the harvest, the reality was bleak.  There would not be enough food to last the winter.  This was the beginning of the Great European Famine, one of the worst natural disasters in the continent’s history.”



“We left nothing but the harvest of a charred desert that was now the bitterness of dust and ashes.  And in their affliction we began to see the hand of God outstretched to punish sin.  Famine and sickness waited not to be invited, as the oppressed looked around for a protector, and finds he has none.”


Maon – A Scottish solider




“Ravaged by famine, many areas were deserted.  Entire towns vanished at this time.


 What was happening during the course of the Bruce invasion was very extreme.  Contemporary accounts say that people were struggling so much they were resorting to cannibalism in parts of Ireland.


“It was said truly that some evil men were so distraught by famine, that they dragged out of the cemeteries the corpses of the buried, and roasted the bodies on spits, and ate every single one of them.  And women ate their sons for hunger.”


Chartuleries of St. Mary’s Abbey, Dublin



After Braveheart:  1315  High King of Ireland

The 2015 remake is entitled After Bannockburn

Produced by Stephen Rooke

Co-produced by Seona Robertson

Directed by Maurice Sweeney

Tile Films

Narrated by Brian Cox








“Great famine this year throughout Ireland.”


Annals of Connaught





“Edward Bruce, the destroyer of the people of Ireland in general, both English and Irish, was slain by the English, through dint of battle and bravery, at Dundalk, where also Mac Rory, Lord of the lnse-Gall the Hebrides, Mac Donnell, Lord of Argyle, and many others of the chiefs of Scotland, were slain.  And no achievement had been performed in Ireland for a long time before, from which greater benefit had accrued to the country than from this; for, during the three and a half years that this Edward spent in it, a universal famine prevailed to such a degree, that men were wont to devour one another.”


Annals of the Four Masters





“Great cattle-plague throughout Ireland, the like of which had never been known before.”




“The same cattle-plague was in all Ireland this year. It was called the Mael Domnaig.”




“The cattle plague throughout Ireland still.”


Annals of Connaught





“The castle of Lough Oughter was taken by O'Rourke by cunning, for twenty cows.”


Annals of the Four Masters





“Great thunder and lightning occurred in the summer of this year, by which the fruits and crops of Ireland were very much injured, and the corn grew whitish and unprofitable.


A disease, called Slaedán, raged universally throughout Ireland, which afflicted, for three or four days successively, every person who took it.  It was second in pain only to the agony of death.”


Annals of the Four Masters





“A great intolerable wind this summer, with scarcity of food and clothing.”


Annals of Connaught






“The cattle and winter grass of Ireland suffered much from frost and snow, which lasted from the end of the first fortnight in Winter into the Spring.


Great war all over Meath between Galls and Gaels. The corncrops of Ireland were destroyed and there was famine in the land.”



Annals of Connaught






“A great plague raged in Ireland, and more especially in Moylurg, by which great numbers were carried off.”


Annals of the Four Masters








“During the 1200’s, Greenland and Iceland experienced increasing cold.  Sea ice spread southward around Greenland and in the northern-most Atlantic, creating difficulties for Norse ships sailing from Iceland as early as 1203.  Unusual cold brought early frosts and crop failures to Poland and the Russian plains in 1215, when famine caused people to sell their children and eat pine bark.  During the 1200’s, some Alpine glaciers advanced for the first time in centuries, destroying irrigation channels in high mountain valleys and overturning larch forests.


While colder temperatures afflicted the north, Europe as a whole benefited from the change [during the 1200’s].  The downturn in temperatures in the Arctic cause a persistent trough of low pressure over Greenland and enduring ridges of high pressure over north-western Europe.  A period of unusually warm, mostly dry summers between 1284 and 1311, in which May frosts were virtually unknown, encouraged many farmers to experiment with vineyards in England.  After the start of the 1300’s however, the weather turned unpredictable:




The deluge began in 1315, seven weeks after Easter.  “During this season (spring 1315) it rained most marvellously and for so long”, wrote a contemporary observer, Jean Desnouelles.  Across northern Europe, sheets of rain spread in waves over the sodden countryside, dripping from thatched eaves, flowing in endless rivulets down muddy country lanes.  Wrote chronicler Bernado Guidonis: “Exceedingly great rains descended from the heavens, and they made huge and deep mud-pools on the land.”  Freshly plowed fields turned into shallow lakes.  City streets and narrow alleys became jostling, slippery quagmires.  June passed, then July with little break in the weather.  Only occasionally did a watery sun break through the clouds, before the rain started again.  “Throughout nearly all of May, July and August, the rains did not cease.” complained one writer.  An unseasonably cold August became an equally chilly September.  Such corn and oats as survived were beaten down to the ground, heavy with moisture, the ears still soft and unripened.  Hay lay flat in the fields.  Oxen stood knee deep in thick mud under sheltering trees, their heads turned away from the rain.  Dykes were washed away, royal manors inundated.  In central Europe, floods swept away entire villages, drowning hundreds at a time.  Deep erosion gullies tore through hillside fields where shallow clay soils could not absorb the endless water.  Harvests had been less than usual in previous years, causing prices to rise, but that of 1315 was a disaster.  The author of the Chronicle of Malmesbury wondered, like many others, if divine vengeance had come upon the land: “Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them.”


Europe was a continent of constant turmoil and minor wars, of endless killings, raids, and military expeditions.  Many conflicts stemmed from succession disputes and personal rivalries, from sheer greed and reckless ambition.  The wars continued whatever the weather, in blazing sunshine, or torrential rain, armies feeding off villages, leaving empty granaries and despoiled crops in their train.  War merely increased the suffering of the peasants, who lived close enough to the edge as it was.  But the rains of 1315 stopped military campaigning in its tracks.


“And what a wonder!  Some knights who were sitting on a magnificently outfitted horse gave the horse and their weapons away for cheap wine; and they did so because they were so terribly hungry.”


The catastrophic rains affected an enormous area of northern Europe, from Ireland to Germany and north into Scandinavia.  Incessant rain drenched farmlands long cleared of woods or reclaimed from marsh by countless small villages.  The farmers had plowed heavy soils with long furrows, creating fields that absorbed many millimeters of rain without serious drainage problems.  Now they became muddy wildernesses, the crops flattened where they grew.  Clayey sub-soils became so waterlogged in many areas that the fertility of the topsoil was reduced drastically for years afterward.”



 (previous to these rains of 1315+) “ … as rural populations grew during the 1200’s, many communities had moved onto lighter, often sandy soils, more marginal farming land that was incapable of absorbing sustained rainfall.  [and now, with these rains:]  Deep erosion gullies channelled running water through ravaged fields, leaving little more than patches of cultivable land.  In parts of southern Yorkshire in northern England, thousands of acres of arable land lost their thin topsoil to deep gullies, leaving the underlying rock exposed.  As much as half the arable land vanished in some places.  Inevitably, crop yields plummeted.  Such grain as could be harvested was soft and had to be dried before it could be ground into flour.  The cold weather and torrential rains of later summer 1315 prevented thousands of hectares of cereals from ripening fully.  Fall plantings of wheat and rye failed completely.  Hay could not be cured properly.


Hunger began within months.  “There began a dearness of wheat….From day to day the price increased,” lamented a chronicler in Flanders.  By Christmas 1315, many communities throughout north-western Europe were already desperate.


Few people understood how extensive the famine was until pilgrims, traders, and government messengers brought tales of similar misfortune from all parts.  “The whole world was troubled.” wrote a chronicler at Salzburg, which lay at the southern margins of the affected region.  King Edward II of England attempted to impose price controls on livestock, but without success.  After the hunger grew worse, he tried again, placing restrictions on the manufacture of ale and other products made from grain.  The king urged his bishops to exhort hoarders to offer their surplus grain for sale “with efficacious words” and also offered incentives for the importation of grain.  At a time when no one had enough to eat, none of these measures worked.


The hunger was made worse by the previous century’s population growth.  In the late 1000’s, England’s population of about 1.4 million had risen to 5 million by the beginning of the 1300’s.  France’s inhabitants (that is, that part of Europe now lying within the country’s modern boundaries) increased from about 6.2 million in the late 1000’s, to about 17.6 million or even higher.  By 1300, with the help of cereal cultivation at unprecedented altitudes and latitudes, Norway supported half a million people.  Yet economic growth had not kept pace with population.   There was already some sluggishness in local economies by 1250, and very slow growth everywhere after 1285.  With growing rural and urban populations, high transportation costs, and very limited communication networks, the gap between production and demand was gradually widening throughout northern Europe.  Many towns and cities, especially those away from the coast  or major waterways, were very vulnerable to food shortages.


In the countryside, many rural communities survived at near-subsistence levels, with only enough grain to get through one bad harvest and plant for the next year.  Even in good years, small farmers endured the constant specter of winter famine.  All it took was a breakdown in supply lines caused by iced-in-shipping, bridges damaged by floods, an epidemic of cattle disease that decimated breeding stock and draught animals, or too much or too little rainfall, and people went hungry.


Most close-knit farming communities endured the shortages of 1315 and hoped for a better harvest the following year.  Then the spring rains in 1316 prevented proper sowing of oats, barley and spelt.  The harvest failed again and the rains continued.  Complained a Salzburg chronicler of 1316: “There was such an inundation of waters that it seemed as though it was THE FLOOD.”  Intense gales battered Channel and North Sea.  Storm-force winds piled huge sand dunes over a flourishing port at Kenfig near Port Talbot in south Wales, causing its abandonment.  Villages throughout northern Europe paid the price for two centuries of extensive land clearance.  Flocks and herds withered, crops failed, prices rose, and people contemplated the wrath of God.  The agony was slow: famine weakens rural populations and makes them vulnerable to disease, which follows almost inevitably in its train.  The prolonged disaster is familiar from modern-day famines in Africa and India.  People first turned to relatives and neighbours, invoking the ties of kin and community that had bound them for generations.  Then many families abandoned their land, seeking charity from relatives or aimlessly wandering the countryside in search of food and relief.  Rural beggars roamed from village to village and town to town, telling (often false) stories of entire communities abandoned or of deserted meadows and hillsides.


By the end of 1316, many peasants and labourers were reduced to penury.  Paupers ate dead bodies of diseased cattle and scavenged growing grasses in fields.  Villagers in northern France are said to have eaten cats, dogs and dung of pigeons.  In the English countryside, peasants lived off foods that they would not normally consume, many of them of dubious nutritional value.  They were weakened by diarrhea and dehydration, became more susceptible to diseases of all kinds, were overcome by lethargy, and did little work.  The newborn and the aged died fastest.


Community after community despaired and slowly dissolved.  Thousands of acres of farmland were abandoned due to a shortage of seed corn and draught oxen, and to falling village populations.  Huge areas of the Low Countries, inundated by the sea after major storms and prolonged rains, were so difficult to reclaim that major landowners could hardly persuade farmers to resettle their flooded lands.  Across the North Sea, in the Bilsdale area of northeast Yorkshire, homesteaders in the late 1200’s had cleared hundreds of acres of higher ground for new villages.  A couple of generations later, knots of hamlets, each with its own carpenters, foresters, and tanners, flourished on the newly cleared land.  But climatic and economic deterioration, the 1316 famine, disease, the Scottish raids, caused all of them to be abandoned by the 1330’s.  The hamlets became tiny single-family holdings, and the communities dispersed.  Throughout northern Europe, small farming communities on marginal land were abandoned, or shrunk until their holdings were confined to the most fertile and least flood-prone lands.


The cold and wet conditions brought profound hardship to homesteads almost everywhere.  Many free landowners, forced to sell or mortgage their farms, were reduced to the basest poverty.  Thousands of farmers became laborers, especially in areas around London and other large cities, where there was much demand for food and such tasks as plowing were made more laborious by the wet, clogged soils.  Real estate records and rent lists reveal a dramatic increase in land transactions, as richer landowners exploited their poorer neighbours and families deeded field to their children to enable them to survive.  Compared with 1315, for example, the manor of Hindolveston in Norfolk witnessed a 160 percent increase in surrenders of property by tenants in 1316, and a 70 percent overage in 1317.  In most cases, a handful of rich farmers bought out their poorer colleagues.  One Adam Carpenter acquired five parcels of land in 1315 alone.  By the time the rush of transactions abated, he had acquired forty-seven.


The year 1316 was the worst for cereal crops throughout the entire Middle Ages.  In many places, the crops simply did not ripen.  Where wheat could be harvested, the plants were stunted, the yields pitiful.


Downey mildew attacked French grapes, so vines never reached their proper maturity and “there was a great failure of wine in the whole kingdom of France.”  Chroniclers complained of shortages and harsh taste.  The vineyards of Neustadt in Germany were hard hit: 1316, “a trifling quantity of wine”; 1317, “very little wine.”  That of 1319 was “sour,” while the cold in 1323 was so extreme that the root stocks died.  Not until 1328, six years after the famine ended, was there “very much and exceptionally good wine.”


The weather attacked not only crops but animals.  Just feeding them in winter became a serious headache.  The fields were so damp that, even if hay could be mowed, the crops could not dry in the open.  Stored in a barn, uncured hay rots, builds up heat and methane gas, and can burst into flames unless turned regularly.  What drying ovens and kilns were available were used to dry unripened grain for human consumption.  The worst for animals came later in the famine years.  The bitterly cold winter of 1317/1318 used up the already depleted fodder stocks.  When these ran out, farmers had to turn their animals out to forage for themselves in short-lived warmer spells.  Thousands of head starved or froze to death in their pastures.  Sheep suffered especially badly from the cold, for prolonged snow and frost early in the year make lambing a risky proposition.  The raw summer brought virulent rinderpest, which attacked cattle with diarrhea, dehydration, and intestinal failure.  Thousands of putrefying carcasses were burnt or buried in mass graves.  A parasitic worm infection called liver fluke reduced sheep and goat flocks by as much as 70 percent in some places.


“The great dying of beasts” continued into the early 1320’s, bringing severe shortages not only of livestock but of manure for the fields.  The impact was felt immediately.  Oxen and horses lay at the heart of the rural economy, the former used extensively for plowing.  Teams of oxen, often owned jointly by several families, plowed heavier soils for entire communities and were heavily used by medieval manors.  Inevitably, the stock shortage translated into fewer hectares plowed, abandoned fields, and lower crop yields.  Only pigs were relatively unaffected.  Fast-breeding swine were abundant until the shortfall in bread, beef and mutton caused people to increase the amount of pork in their diet and herds were decimated.


In the towns, the urban poor ate less bread.  Wrote a Flemish observer in 1316: “The people were in such great need that it cannot be expressed.  For the cries that were heard from the poor would move a stone, as they lay in the street with woe and great complain, swollen with hunger.”  In Flanders, bread was no longer made from wheat, but from anything that was available.  Sixteen Parisian bakers were caught putting hog dung and wine dregs in their loaves.  They were placed on punishment wheels in public squares and forced to hold fragments of the rotten bread in their hands.  People went days without eating and assuaged hunger pangs by eating leaves, roots, and the occasional fish taken from a stream.  Even King Edward II of England had trouble finding bread for his court.  Famine was often more severe in cities and towns than in the countryside, with widespread diarrhea and lethargy resulting from “strange diets”.  The hungry suffered greatly from the intense winter cold.  There had not been so many deaths from disease or such instability in towns within living memory.  Robbery with assault became commonplace as thieves stole anything that could be eaten or sold for food, be it hay, timber, or church roof lead.  Piracy flourished as desperate locals preyed on fishing boats and grain vessels.


Beggars flocked to the cities from the countryside.  In the Low Countries, they gathered in large groups, scavenged the middens that lay outside town walls or “grazed like cattle” in the fields.  Bodies littered cultivated land and were buried in mass graves.  The mendicants spread disease.  In the town of Tournai in modern-day Belgium, 1316 was “the year of the mortality”.  Gilles de Muisit, abbot of Saint-Martin de Tournai, wrote: “men and women from among the powerful, the middling, and the lowly, old and young, rich and poor, perished daily in such numbers that the air was fetid with the stench”.  Huge communal cemeteries entombed the previously segregated dead, rich and poor alike.  In Louvain, a wagon from the hospital “loaded with six or eight corpses twice or thrice a day continuously carried pitiable little bodies to the new cemetery outside the town”.  Between 5 and 10 percent of Flanders’s urban population perished in the Great Famine.




By 1317, as the rains continued through another wet summer, people everywhere despaired.  The church performed complex rogation ceremonies to pray for divine intervention.  Guilds and religious orders in Paris processed barefoot through the streets.  In the dioceses of Chartres and Rouen, chronicler Guillaume de Nangis saw “a large number of both sexes, not only from nearby places but from places as much as five leagues away, barefooted, and many even, excepting the women, in a completely nude condition, with their priests, coming together in procession at the church of the holy martyr, and they devoutly carried bodies of the saints and other relics to be adored”.  After generations of generally good harvests and settled weather, they believed divine retribution was at hand for a Europe divided by wars.  Rich and poor alike endured the punishment of God.


Northern Europe never again endured a hunger as catastrophic as that of 1315.  Later famines, however local, served as reminders of the great fragility of society.  Not until the late 1600’s in England, and more than a century later in France, did new agricultural methods and crops, much improved commercial infrastructures, and large-scale food imports significantly reduce the threat of famine.


The suffering lasted for seven years before more normal harvests brought a measure of relief.  Horrendous weather continued through 1318, with extensive flooding in the Low Countries in 1320 and 1322.  The settled climate of earlier years gave way to unpredictable, often wild weather, marked by warm and very dry summers in the late 1320’s and 1330’s and by a notable increase in storminess and wind strengths in the English Channel and North Sea.  The Little Ice Age had begun.”


The Little Ice Age

Brian Fagan

pages 28-33, 38-43, 81






















“I love coming to South America.  There is so much rich, unstudied, archaeology.  Everybody has heard of the Inca.  But they are just a few hundred years of 12,000 years of history on this great continent.  There is soooo much more to study.  And by looking at these lost cultures, we can help them take their rightful place in the history of South America.


Long before the Inca, were the Chimu, and the Chimu, once, were kings.  And with their loyal subjects, they built the kingdom of Chimor.  By its height in the 1400’s, their kingdom had become an empire.  The first [?] in South America.  Stretching along 600 miles of coastal desert, in what is now Peru, it was lapped by the Pacific in the west, and frowned upon by the Andes in the east.


The Kingdom of Chimor dominated the northern coast of Peru for 5 centuries.  In the face of some of the most extreme climate conditions in the world (desert country), its people transformed the desert, built an oasis in the sand, and created gold and silver treasures, and they believed so strongly in the power of their monarchs and their gods, that they were prepared to sacrifice their own children. 


From 900 to 1400 AD, these loyal subjects built an empire.  An empire that raises so many interesting questions.  What motivated them to invade their neighbours.  How did they build one of the largest pre-Columbian cities in South America.  And why did this, the first empire of South America, disappear back into the desert that it conquered.


Before the Chimu were the Moche.  One of the most violent and sophisticated cultures of the Americas.  For over 600 years, they ruled the Moche river valley.  It is thought, that their demise, around 750 AD followed an extreme weather event, so catastrophic, that it was almost two centuries before the Chimu rose in the same valley.


Even though Moche collapsed in some ways, a lot of what they did continued.  We see lots of continuities, they are sometimes subtle, but they’re in some of the ceramics, the irrigation systems that were developed thousands of years before the Moche, continue and were expanded by the Chimu, so we ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’.


Over 200 years passed, between the end of the Moche, and the emergence of the Chimu empire.  Many of the challenges remained the same.  One priceless gift that the Chimu inherited, from their Moche great great great grandparents, was that engineering alchemy that transformed the desert – canals.  The Moche, and their ancestors, had been building canals for hundreds of years.  But the scale and ambition of Chimu engineering, surpassed anything that had come before.


By 1300 AD, arable land under Chimu control, had expanded from 4 square miles to a staggering 340 square miles.  But the land, as well as the sea, was subjected to extreme weather events.  And as the population increased, so too did the risk posed by catastrophic conditions, to the food supply.  In the face of danger, it seems the Chimu appealed to their gods.”


…  a powerful people, desperately battling with their environment, around the mid-1300’s.  The same period that a catastrophic weather event struck the Peruvian coast.”


Guest archaeologist, Gabriel Prieto, trying to explain the gruesome child sacrifices: 


“From an anthropological point of view, it is very possible that giving the best you have – your children, your siblings; for a supreme purpose probably was something that was accomplished by their relatives, as something very important and probably provides them with a special status within the Chimu society.”


“It would seem that this slaughter of innocents was demanded by the state.  But, what could be so important that any state would sacrifice fit and healthy children.”


“I think that context is clear evidence of the Chimu state trying to control a very difficult situation, because we have found a very thick layer of clay that is on top of sand, so it’s clear that there was a very strong rain right before this ritual and afterwards.  It actually makes me think of the Gods and the Chimu pantheon in this, and it is very clear this sacrifice may not only be to stop the rains, these very dangerous and damaging rains, but at the same time, to what I consider was the most important Chimu God, it is actually a sea-goddess.”


“Were these children killed to appease her wroth?  Human sacrifice is an incredibly emotive thing.  There’s no getting away from the fact that brutally murdering 43 children, ripping out their hearts, opening up their chests, is a hard thing for us to understand.  But, as an archaeologist, we have to try to empathise with how this could be culturally acceptable at the time.  Perhaps even expected of the elites who ruled Chanchan.


Gabriel paints a picture of a powerful people, desperately battling with their environment, around the mid-1300’s – the same period that a catastrophic weather event struck the Peruvian coast.


Recurring periodically, but never predictably, these events are a blight on Peru’s history.  Meteorologists attribute them to a puzzling phenomenon, they called The Southern Oscillation, known more commonly around the world as El Nino.  El Ninos are a climatic anomaly that can suddenly transform local weather patterns.  The consequences here in coastal Peru, can be torrential downpours, that transform this barren landscape into a raging torrent of water. 


At their worst, El Ninos can be floods, drought, plagues of insects, and even waves of disease.  So when the Chimu survived the El Nino of the mid-1300’s, perhaps they believed that their sacrifices had appeased the sea-goddess.  But the damage to their irrigation canals seems to have encouraged a new policy, one less dependent on the elements.  They abandoned canal building, and seemed to lose interest in the time-consuming irrigation business, instead opting for a new strategy, a strategy that brought more wealth and power to the kings and queens of Chimor: empire-building.”


Lost Kingdoms of South America

episode 4: Kingdom of the Desert

Jago Cooper, BBC, 2013



Gabriel Prieto, Ph.D.

University of Florida











1318 – Baalbek – Lebanon:


“… nature took a hand again and a fearsome flood undermined the ramparts making several wide breaches.”


“The water rushed in with such force that it lifted a tower 12 meters square to a distance of 400 meters.”


Michael M. Alouf

History of Baalbek

page 73


Sourced from:

Magicians of the Gods

Graham Hancock

page 252












“Once upon a time, Africa’s history told of the rise and fall of kings and kingdoms, of great battles and brave warriors, of great triumphs, and ancient traditions.  These records, so proudly passed down from generation to generation, were fragile by nature, and fell victim to European expansion.  Today these records have all but disappeared.


Yet many clues to Africa’s history remain buried under the ground, or are still alive in the surviving cultures and traditions of Africa.  These clues bear testimony to civilized and innovative societies in Africa, long before Europeans set sail to explore the world.


This story is a quest to uncover a great era in South Africa’s history.  One that is a thousand years old, but is known only to very few.  A thousand years ago, in Southern Africa, at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers, flourished a great African kingdom.  Its power extended far beyond the natural boundaries of these rivers, and its people occupied the hundreds of sandstone hills that rise from this ancient flood-plain.


Tucked away, in this valley, on a well-concealed hill, lie the ruins of Southern Africa’s very first city, Mapungubwe.


At Mapungubwe, the crafting of gold and other objects, became the trademark of a remarkable civilization.  Once, all paths in the region led to this great capital.  Leaders stationed at distant outposts controlled entry to this land, and administered the law.  In this valley, over a period of 400 years, from the start of Shroda (900 AD), to the decline of Mapungubwe (late 1200’s), evolved the first [?] highly organized and civilized society in Southern Africa.


By the end of the 1200’s, the majority of the population of Mapungubwe began to disperse.  Some moved east to join a people that would eventually constitute the Venda nation.  Others moved north.  Great Zimbabwe, which began in about 1275 adopted and refined most of Mapungubwe’s social, political, and economic patterns, only on a larger scale.  But, by 1450, this great kingdom had also fallen.


The skeletons of Mapungubwe remain nameless.  The graves, the bones, the artefacts, are the only physical reminders of this past civilization.  Will we ever know how and why this kingdom ended?  Some suggest that the natural resources of ivory and gold were depleted.  Perhaps the kingdom fell in battle against another people?  Or did the Arab traders find more lucrative trading partners further north at Great Zimbabwe, cutting off the trade to Mapungubwe?”


“The weight of the evidence was that it was climatic.  The Little Ice Age had spread from Europe  [???] , and its biggest impact starts around 1300 AD, and it made things cold and dry.  And that would have meant then that it was impossible to grow anything here.  Maybe for a few years they’re bringing stuff in as tribute, from better areas.  But after a while, they just can’t do that, they can’t maintain it, and they have to leave.”


“As time has passed, invaluable information about Mapungubwe has disappeared.  Had the first archaeologists done a proper oral research, perhaps we would know more about the people of Mapungubwe.  But with the western culture obsessed with the written word, oral histories of Africa’s past have been too easily dismissed.”


Mapungubwe: Secrets of the Sacred Hill

Icon Entertainment and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), 1999

written, directed & photographed by Lance Gewer

produced by Cassim Shariff and Katerina Weineck








“An enquiry into the causes of the Black Death, will not be without important results in the study of the plagues which have visited the world, although it cannot advance beyond generalisation without entering upon a field hitherto uncultivated, and, to this hour, entirely unknown.  Mighty revolutions in the organism of the earth, of which we have credible information, had preceded it.  From China to the Atlantic, the foundations of the earth were shaken,--throughout Asia and Europe the atmosphere was in commotion, and endangered, by its baneful influence, both vegetable and animal life. 


The series of these great events began in the year 1333, fifteen years before the plague broke out in Europe: they first appeared in China.  Here a parching drought, accompanied by famine, commenced in the tract of country watered by the rivers Kiang and Hoai.


This was followed by such violent torrents of rain, in and about Kingsai, at that time the capital of the Empire, that, according to tradition, more than 400,000 people perished in the floods.


Finally, the mountain Tsincheou fell in, and vast clefts were formed in the earth. 


In the succeeding year (1334), passing over fabulous traditions, the neighbourhood of Canton was visited by inundations; whilst in Tche, after an unexampled drought, a plague arose, which is said to have carried off about 5,000,000 of people.


A few months afterwards an earthquake followed, at and near Kingsai; and subsequent to the falling in of the mountains of Ki-ming-chan, a lake was formed of more than a hundred leagues in circumference, where, again, thousands found their grave.


In Hou-kouang and Ho-nan, a drought prevailed for five months; and innumerable swarms of locusts destroyed the vegetation; while famine and pestilence, as usual, followed in their train.


Connected accounts of the condition of Europe before this great catastrophe, are not to be expected from the writers of the fourteenth century.  It is remarkable, however, that simultaneously with a drought and renewed floods in China, in 1336, many uncommon atmospheric phenomena, and in the winter, frequent thunder storms, were observed in the north of France; and so early as the eventful year of 1333, an eruption of Etna took place.


According to the Chinese annals, about 4,000,000 of people perished by famine in the neighbourhood of Kiang in 1337; and deluges, swarms of locusts, and an earthquake which lasted six days, caused incredible devastation.  In the same year, the first swarms of locusts appeared in Franconia, which were succeeded in the following year by myriads of these insects.  In 1338, Kingsai was visited by an earthquake of ten days duration; at the same time France suffered from a failure in the harvest; and thenceforth, till the year 1342, there was in China, a constant succession of inundations, earthquakes, and famines.


In the same year great floods occurred in the vicinity of the Rhine and in France, which could not be attributed to rain alone; for, everywhere, even on the tops of mountains, springs were seen to burst forth, and dry tracts were laid under water in an inexplicable manner.


In the following year, the mountain Hong-tchang, in China, fell in, and caused a destructive deluge; and in Pien-tcheou and Leang-tcheou, after three months’ rain, there followed unheard of inundations, which destroyed seven cities.  In Egypt and Syria, violent earthquakes took place; and in China they became, from this time, more and more frequent; for they recurred, in 1344, in Ven-tcheou, where the sea overflowed in consequence; in 1345, in Ki-tcheou, and in both the following years in Canton, with subterraneous thunder.  Meanwhile, floods and famine devastated various districts, until 1347, when the fury of the elements subsided in China.


The signs of terrestrial commotions commenced in Europe in the year 1348, after the intervening districts of country in Asia had probably been visited in the same manner.


On the island of Cyprus, the plague from the East had already broken out; when an earthquake shook the foundations of the island, and was accompanied by so frightful a hurricane, that the inhabitants who had slain their Mahometan slaves, in order that they might not themselves be subjugated by them, fled in dismay, in all directions.  The sea overflowed--the ships were dashed to pieces on the rocks, and few outlived the terrific event, whereby this fertile and blooming island was converted into a desert.  Before the earthquake, a pestiferous wind spread so poisonous an odour, that many, being overpowered by it, fell down suddenly and expired in dreadful agonies.


This phenomenon is one of the rarest that has ever been observed, for nothing is more constant than the composition of the air; and in no respect has nature been more careful in the preservation of organic life.  Never have naturalists discovered in the atmosphere, foreign elements, which, evident to the senses, and borne by the winds, spread from land to land, carrying disease over whole portions of the earth, as is recounted to have taken place in the year 1348.


It is, therefore, the more to be regretted, that in this extraordinary period, which, owing to the low condition of science, was very deficient in accurate observers, so little that can be depended on respecting those uncommon occurrences in the air, should have been recorded.  Yet, German accounts say expressly, that a thick, stinking mist advanced from the East, and spread itself over Italy; and there could be no deception in so palpable a phenomenon.  The credibility of unadorned traditions, however little they may satisfy to physical research, can scarcely be called in question when we consider the connexion of events; for just at this time earthquakes were more general than they had been within the range of history.


In thousands of places chasms were formed, from whence arose noxious vapours; and as at that time natural occurrences were transformed into miracles, it was reported, that a fiery meteor, which descended on the earth far in the East, had destroyed everything within a circumference of more than a hundred leagues, infecting the air far and wide.  The consequences of innumerable floods contributed to the same effect; vast river districts had been converted into swamps; foul vapours arose everywhere, increased by the odour of putrefied locusts, which had never perhaps darkened the sun in thicker swarms, and of countless corpses, which even in the well-regulated countries of Europe, they knew not how to remove quickly enough out of the sight of the living.  It is probable, therefore, that the atmosphere contained foreign, and sensibly perceptible, admixtures to a great extent, which, at least in the lower regions, could not be decomposed, or rendered ineffective by separation. 


Now, if we go back to the symptoms of the disease, the ardent inflammation of the lungs points out, that the organs of respiration yielded to the attack of an atmospheric poison--a poison, which (if we admit the independent origin of the Black Plague at any one place on the globe, which, under such extraordinary circumstances, it would be difficult to doubt) attacked the course of the circulation in as hostile a manner as that which produces inflammation of the spleen and other animal contagions that cause swelling and inflammation of the lymphatic glands. 


Pursuing the course of these grand revolutions further, we find notice of an unexampled earthquake, which, on the 25th of January, 1348, shook Greece, Italy and the neighbouring countries.  Naples, Rome, Pisa, Bologna, Padua, Venice and many other cities suffered considerably: whole villages were swallowed up.  Castles, houses and churches, were overthrown, and hundreds of people were buried beneath their ruins.  In Carinthia, thirty villages, together with all the churches, were demolished; more than a thousand corpses were drawn out of the rubbish; the city of Villach was so completely destroyed, that very few of its inhabitants were saved; and when the earth ceased to tremble, it was found that mountains had been moved from their positions, and that many hamlets were left in ruins.


It is recorded, that during this earthquake, the wine in the casks became turbid, a statement which may be considered as furnishing a proof, that changes causing a decomposition of the atmosphere had taken place; but if we had no other information from which the excitement of conflicting powers of nature during these commotions, might be inferred, yet scientific observations in modern times have shewn, that the relation of the atmosphere to the earth is changed by volcanic influences.  Why then, may we not, from this fact, draw retrospective inferences respecting those extraordinary phenomena?  


Independently of this, however, we know that during this earthquake, the duration of which is stated by some to have been a week, and by others, a fortnight [two weeks], people experienced an unusual stupor and headache, and that many fainted away.


These destructive earthquakes extended as far as the neighbourhood of Basle, and recurred until the year 1360, throughout Germany, France, Silesia, Poland, England and Denmark, and much further north.


Great and extraordinary meteors appeared in many places, and were regarded with superstitious horror.  A pillar of fire, which on the 20th of December, 1348, remained for an hour at sun rise over the pope’s palace in Avignon; a fireball, which in August of the same year was seen at sunset over Paris, and was distinguished from similar phenomena, by its longer duration, (not to mention other instances mixed up with wonderful prophecies and omens), are recorded in the chronicles of that age. 


The order of the seasons seemed to be inverted,--rains, floods and failures in crops were so general, that few places were exempt from them; and though an historian of this century assures us that there was an abundance in the granaries and storehouses, all his contemporaries, with one voice, contradict him.  The consequences of failure in the crops were soon felt, especially in Italy and the surrounding countries, where, in this year, a rain which continued for four months, had destroyed the seed.  In the larger cities, they were compelled, in the spring of 1347, to have recourse to a distribution of bread among the poor, particularly at Florence, where they erected large bake-houses, from which, in April, ninety-four thousand loaves of bread, each of twelve ounces in weight, were daily dispensed.  It is plain, however, that humanity could only partially mitigate the general distress, not altogether obviate it. 


Diseases, the invariable consequence of famine, broke out in the country, as well as in cities; children died of hunger in their mothers’ arms,--want, misery and despair, were general throughout Christendom.


Such are the events which took place before the eruption of the Black Plague in Europe.”


The Black Death in the Fourteenth Century

I. F. C. Hecker, 1833

Translated by B. G. Babington

Produced by Thiers Halliwell and Archibald Ogden-Smith for Project Gutenberg

Chapter 3 – Causes – Spread.


Sourced from:

New Light on the Black Death

page 100











“Several contemporary accounts exist of the earliest days of the Black Death, so similar in detail as to suggest that they may well have come from the same source.  Almost the only man known to have been at or near the spot, Ibn-Bātuta, ‘The Traveller’ is disappointingly reticent.  An anonymous Flemish cleric, on the other hand, was fortunately unfettered by the restrictions imposed on those who have actually seen what they describe.  Basing himself on a letter from a friend in the papal curia at Avignon he recounted how:


“In the East, hard by Greater India, in a certain province, horrors and unheard of tempests overwhelmed the whole province for the space of three days.  On the first day there was a rain of frogs, serpents, lizards, scorpions, and many venomous beasts of that sort.  On the second, thunder was heard, and lightning and sheets of fire fell upon the earth, mingled with hail stones of marvelous size; which slew almost all, from the greatest even to the least.  On the third day there fell fire from heaven and stinking smoke, which slew all that were left of men and beasts, and burned up all the cities and towns in those parts.  By these tempests the whole province was infected; and it is conjectured that, through the foul blast of wind that came from the South, the whole seashore and surrounding lands were infected, and are waxing more and more poisonous from day to day …”


“This concept of a corrupted atmosphere, visible in the form of mist or smoke, drifting across the world and overwhelming all whom it encountered, was one of the main assumptions on which the physicians of the Middle Ages based their efforts to check the plague.  For one chronicler the substance of the cloud was more steam than smoke.  Its origin was to be found in a war which had taken place between the sea and the sun in the Indian Ocean.  The waters of the ocean were drawn up as a vapor so corrupted by the multitude of dead and rotting fish that the sun was quite unable to consume it nor could it fall again as healthy rain.  So it drifted away, an evil, noxious mist, contaminating all it touched.  For the Chronicler of Este, however, this cloud of death owed nothing to the sea:


“Between Cathay and Persia there rained a vast rain of fire; falling in flakes like snow and burning up mountains and plains and other lands, with men and women; and then arose vast masses of smoke; and whosoever beheld this died within the space of half a day; and likewise any man or woman who looked upon those who had seen this …”


“By the end of 1346, therefore, it was widely known, at least in the major European seaports, that a plague of unparalleled fury was raging in the East.  Fearful rumors were heard of the disease’s progress: ‘India was depopulated, Tartary, Mesopotamia, Syria, Armenia were covered with dead bodies; the Kurds fled in vain to the mountains.  In Caramania and Caesarea none were left alive …’  But still it does not seem to have occurred to anyone that the plague might one day strike at Europe.”


The Black Death

Philip Ziegler

Penguin UK, 1982 (original was 1969)

Opening of chapter 1 Origins and Nature







 2nd August


“A star [appeared] … as large as the moon.  There was heard a violent noise like a thunderclap.


3 days later, this same phenomenon was repeated.”





































Description: Frost fair on the river Thames, London.


Just as the earth goes through warm periods, like the Medieval Warm Period, and our modern warm period; so too does the entire earth go through generally cool periods.  The Medieval Warm Period was not a monololithic heat-wave, for 500 years.  Neither was the most recent cool period, the Little Ice Age, but there is definitely a clear difference in climate, and a clear peak, within both periods.  The Medieval Warm Period clearly peaked around 1100-1200; and the Little Ice Age clearly peaked between 1645-1715.  The fact that each period spanned roughly 500 years, is, in of itself, almost certainly pertinent to understanding the underlying mechanism(s) responsible for these climate swings.  The fact that previous to the Medival Warm Period, you have the dark ages; and, before that, a hypothetical Roman Warm Period, might also compliment the pattern observed between Medieval Warm – Little Ice Age – Modern Warm.  But, again, these are general trends – within a warm period, there is much diversity of weather events, and within a cold period as well.

Let’s start at the clear peak of the Little Ice Age:




During the Great Frost of 1683–84, the worst frost recorded in England, the Thames river was completely frozen for two months, with the ice reaching a thickness of 11 inches in London.  Solid ice was reported extending for miles off the coasts of the southern North Sea (England, France and the Low Countries), causing severe problems for shipping and preventing the use of many harbours.  Near Manchester, the ground was frozen to 27 inches.  In Somerset, the ground was frozen solid to more than 4 feet!


“The severe weather of the 1590’s marked the beginnings of the peak of the Little Ice Age, a regimen of climatic extremes that would last over two centuries.  There were records of unusual heat and of record cold, like the winter of 1607, when savage frosts split the trunks of many great trees in England.


The Little Ice Age

Brian Fagan



These next two graphs represent the number of sunspots, which indicates the intensity of solar activity:

Note the period starting in the late-1200’s, and ending in the early 1700’s.  This is the Little Ice Age.  Before that, we’re in the Medieval Warm Period:


Description: 1200 years of sunspot observations.
Little ice age.


A History of Solar Activity over Millennia

Ilya G. Usoskin

Sodankyl¨a Geophysical Observatory (Oulu unit)

FIN-90014 University of Oulu, Finland

Figure 18: 10-year averaged sunspot numbers:

Actual group sunspot numbers (thick grey line) and

the reconstructions based on 10Be (thin curve, Usoskin et al., 2003c)

and on 14C (thick curve with error bars, Solanki et al., 2004).

The horizontal dotted line depicts the high activity threshold.




Note that dip starting in around the 1640’s and clearing up at the beginning of the first quarter of the 1700’s.  That’s the peak of the Little Ice Age:


Description: 400 years of sunspot observations.
Little ice age - maunder minimum.



“A modern European transported to the height of the Little Ice Age would not find the climate very different, even if winters were sometimes colder than today and summers very warm on occasion too.  There was never a monolithic deep-freeze, rather a climatic seesaw that swung constantly backwards and forwards, in volatile and sometimes disastrous shifts.  There were arctic winters, blazing summers, serious droughts, torrential rain years, often bountiful harvests, and long periods of mild winters and warm summers.  Cycles of excessive cold and unusual rainfall could last a decade, a few years, or just a single season.  The pendulum of climate change rarely paused for more than a generation.


Climate change varied not only from year to year, but from place to place.  The coldest decades in northern Europe did not coincide with those in, say, Russia, or the American West.  For example, eastern North America had its coldest weather of the little ice age in the 1800’s, but the western United States was warmer than in the 1900’s.


In Asia, serious economic disruption, far more threatening than any contemporary disorders in Europe, occurred throughout much of the continent during the 1600’s.  From the 1630’s, China’s Ming empire faced widespread drought.  The government’s draconian response caused widespread revolt, and Manchu attacks from the north increased in intensity.  By the 1640’s, even the fertile Yangtze River Valley of the south suffered from serious droughts, then catastrophic floods, epidemics and famine.  Millions of people died from hunger and the internecine wars that resulted in the fall of the Ming dynasty to the Manchus in 1644.  Hunger and malnutrition brought catastrophic epidemics that killed thousands of people throughout Japan in the early 1640’s.  The same severe weather conditions affected the fertile rice lands of southern Korea, where, again, epidemics killed hundreds of thousands.


Only a few short cool cycles, like the two unusually cold decades between 1590 and 1610, appear to have been synchronous on the hemispheric and global scale.”


The Little Ice Age

Brian Fagan

pages 48, 50



Sunspots are an indication of high solar activity (output of solar radiation, which reaches Earth).  Solar activity drives our climate to a great extent, and it greatly affects nearly all human affairs and pursuits, directly or indirectly, especially in times when 4 out of 5 people are subsistence farmers, almost entirely dependent on crop yields, not just to make money, but just to be able to eat well, and survive the winters, and keep enough grain for seed for the following growing season.

During the worst period of 1672–1699, telescope observations revealed fewer than 50 sunspots for the whole period



“From 1687 to 1692, cold winters and cool summers led to a series of bad harvests.


On April 24, 1692, a French chronicler complained of ‘very cold and unseasonable weather; scarce a leaf on the trees.’


Alpine villagers lived on bread made from ground nutshells mixed with barley and oat flour.


In France, cold summers delayed wine harvests, sometimes even into November.


Widespread blight damaged many crops, bringing one of the worst famines in continental Europe since 1315 and turning France into what a horrified cleric, Archbishop Fenelon, called a “big, desolate hospital without provisions”.


Finland lost perhaps as much as a third of its population to famine and disease in 1696-97, partly because of bad harvests but also because of the government’s lack of interest in relief measures.


On several occasions between 1695 and 1728, inhabitants of the Orkney Islands off northern Scotland were startled to see an Inuit in his kayak paddling off their coasts.  On one memorable occasion, a kayaker came as far south as the River Don near Aberdeen.



The period between 1645 and 1715 was remarkable for the rarity of aurora borealis and aurora australis, which were reported far less frequently than either before or afterward.


 Between 1645 and 1708, not a single aurora was observed in London’s skies.


When one appeared on March 15th 1716, none other than Astronomer Edmund Halley wrote a paper about it, for he had never seen one in all his years as a scientist – and he was sixty years old at the time.



On the other side of the world, naked eye sightings of sunspots from China, Korea, and Japan between 28 BC and 1743 AD provide an average of six sightings per century, presumably coinciding with solar maxima.  There were no observations, whatsoever, between 1639 and 1700, nor were any aurora reported.”


The Little Ice Age

Brian Fagan

pages 121, 116, 132




Note that the Great Frost (1683-4), is centered on the worst period of minimum sunspot observation (1672–1699), which is centered on a wider period of reduced sunspot observation and lack of aurora (1645-1715), which is centered on a period of volatile and often icy conditions, spanning a few hundred years (late 1500’s to early 1800’s), which saw the glaciers advance to levels not seen in 10,000 years!


The variability of the sun’s output was not the only factor affecting climate change during the Little Ice Age:

A few volcanoes made matters much much worse by shading the weak sunshine even more.  For example, in 1600, a volcano in Peru hurled massive rocks and around 20 cubic kilometers of ashy debris high into the air, covering the surrounding 300,000 square kilometers with ash, descending for 10 days, some of it even making it to Greenland and Antarctica.  The sun and moon were darkened for months.

The next summer, 1601 was the coldest since 1400, throughout the northern hemisphere.  Summer sunlight was so dim in Iceland, there were no shadows.  In central Europe, the sun and moon were “reddish, faint, and lacked brilliance”.  Western North America lived through the coldest summer of the previous 400 years, with below-freezing temperatures.  Scandinavia saw the coldest years of the previous 1600.  Constant haze.

Russia was blindsided by a famine that cut its population by a third between 1601 and 1603.

Estonia’s population was reduced by half.

Volcanic events produced at least four more major cold episodes during the 1600’s (although none rivalling the insane 1600 global haze)


“The identities of these eruptions remains unknown except for that of January 4, 1641, when Mount Parker on Mindanao in the Philippines erupted with a noise “like musketry”.  Wrote an anonymous Spanish eyewitness: “By noon we saw a great darkness approaching from the south which gradually spread over the entire hemisphere…..By 1 pm we found ourselves in total night and at 2 pm in such profound darkness that we could not see our hands before our eyes”.  A nearby Spanish flotilla lit lanterns at midday and frantically shovelled ash off its decks, fearing, in the darkness “the Judgement Day to be at hand”.  The dust from the eruption affected temperatures worldwide.”

The Little Ice Age

Brian Fagan

pages 104-105
















Around the mid-1800’s, after this Little Ice Age - after hundreds of years of miserable unpredictable climate swings, generally in the cold direction, the sunspots kicked back into full swing again, and things finally started warming up, and the climate finally settled down to more steady and predictable patterns. 

It had been 500 years since this comfortable stability has been seen, and, in the mid-1800’s, this resurgence of solar output ushered in a new age of discovery, growth, exploration, and prosperity.

Around the early-mid-1800’s, glaciers started melting again, finally stopping their threatening encroachment on poor alpine villagers, having recently grown to their greatest extent in the last 10,000 years.

Sea passages, formally clogged with ice, were being traversed again.

The last freezing of the Thames river was in 1849.


Thing is, the sun’s radiance and splendour can be a blessing, but it can also be a serious curse:




On September 1st, 1859, immediately after the Little Ice Age had wrapped up, and glaciers had started melting; sunspot activity was now going insane, with solar astronomer Richard Carrington being so impressed, he decided to make a drawing of it:


Description: Solar flare drawing before Carrington event.



As Carrington was mesmerized by this epic activity on the surface of the sun, as he stared through his telescope, a massive kidney-shaped ejection started flaring up, growing out from the giant spot on the sun, and then, poof!  It disappeared.


18 hours later, our poor tiny Earth was fully engulfed in a dense storm of charged particles.

Telegraph lines were zapped.

Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies.

Aurorae were seen in the Caribbean.

Gold miners in the US Rockies woke up and started making breakfast, while being puzzled at still being so tired from the labours of the previous day.

You could read a book at night.


“Those who happened to be out late on Thursday night had an opportunity of witnessing another magnificent display of the auroral lights.  The phenomenon was very similar to the display on Sunday night, though at times the light was, if possible, more brilliant, and the prismatic hues more varied and gorgeous.  The light appeared to cover the whole firmament, apparently like a luminous cloud, through which the stars of the larger magnitude indistinctly shone.  The light was greater than that of the moon at its full, but had an indescribable softness and delicacy that seemed to envelop everything upon which it rested.  Between 12 and 1 o'clock, when the display was at its full brilliancy, the quiet streets of the city resting under this strange light, presented a beautiful as well as singular appearance.”


The Aurora Borealis

Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser

September 3, 1859. p. 2; Column 2.




 “I was gold-digging at Rokewood, about four miles from Rokewood township (Victoria).  Myself and two mates looking out of the tent saw a great reflection in the southern heavens at about 7 o'clock p.m., and in about half an hour, a scene of almost unspeakable beauty presented itself, lights of every imaginable color were issuing from the southern heavens, one color fading away only to give place to another if possible more beautiful than the last, the streams mounting to the zenith, but always becoming a rich purple when reaching there, and always curling round, leaving a clear strip of sky, which may be described as four fingers held at arm's length.  The northern side from the zenith was also illuminated with beautiful colors, always curling round at the zenith, but were considered to be merely a reproduction of the southern display, as all colors south and north always corresponded.  It was a sight never to be forgotten, and was considered at the time to be the greatest aurora recorded...  The rationalist and pantheist saw nature in her most exquisite robes, recognising, the divine immanence, immutable law, cause, and effect.  The superstitious and the fanatical had dire forebodings, and thought it a foreshadowing of Armageddon and final dissolution.”


Herbert, Count Frank (October 8, 1909)

The Great Aurora of 1859

The Daily News - Perth, Western Australia - p. 9




 ‘‘On the night of [September 1] we were high up on the Rocky Mountains sleeping in the open air.  A little after midnight we were awakened by the auroral light, so bright that one could easily read common print.  Some of the party insisted that it was daylight and began the preparation of breakfast.”


Rocky Mountain News

September 17, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘Singular as it may appear, a gentleman actually killed three birds with a gun yesterday morning about 1 o’clock, a circumstance which perhaps never had its like before.  The birds were killed while the beautiful aurora borealis was at its height, and being a very early species – larks – were, no doubt, deceived by the bright appearance of everything, and came forth innocently, supposing it was day.’’


New Orleans Daily Picayune

September 9, 1859




 ‘‘Yesterday morning at about 10 o’clock, the wires of the electric telegraph were seized with an unaccountable fit of restiveness; they did not altogether refuse to work, but acted irregularly, the adjustment of the instruments altering so frequently that it was almost impossible to get any continuous message through.  Everywhere the instruments were jammed.  The wires continued to display their obstinacy till the evening, when the cause of the mystery was, to some extent, cleared up.  A bright red light in the south-west quarter of the heavens, made many at first suspect that a great fire had broken out somewhere, but the changing hues and forms of light revealed at last to the initiated the Aurora Australis.’’


The Sydney Morning Herald

August 30, 1859, page 4

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘The French telegraph communications at Paris were greatly affected, and on interrupting the circuit of the conducting wire strong sparks were observed.  The same thing occurred at the same time at all the telegraphic station in France.’’


The Illustrated London News

September 24, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘The wire was then worked for about two hours without the usual batteries, on the auroral current, working better than with the batteries connected.  This is the first instance on record of more than a word or two having been transmitted with the auroral current.’’


Washington Daily National Intelligencer

Tuesday, September 6, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




Boston operator, (to Portland operator) – ‘‘Please cut off your battery entirely from the line for fifteen minutes.’

Portland operator – ‘‘Will do so.  It is now disconnected.’’

Boston – ‘‘Mine is disconnected, and we are working with the auroral current.  How do you receive my writing?’’

Portland – ‘‘Better than with our batteries on.  – Current comes and goes gradually.’’

Boston – ‘‘My current is very strong at times, and we can work better without the batteries, as the Aurora seems to neutralize and augment our batteries alternately, making current too strong at times for our relay magnets.  Suppose we work without batteries while we are affected by this trouble.’’

Portland – ‘‘Very well.  Shall I go ahead with business?’’

Boston – ‘‘Yes.  Go ahead.’’


The Daily Chronicle and Sentinel, Augusta, Georgia

Thursday AM, September 8, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 “Happening to lean towards the sounder, which is against the wall, my forehead grazed a ground-wire which runs down the wall near the sounder.  Immediately, I received a very severe electric shock, which stunned me for an instant.  An old man who was sitting facing me, and but a few feet distant, said that he saw a spark of fire jump from my forehead to the sounder.  The Morse line experienced the same difficulty in working.’’


New York Times

September 5, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘All our exchanges, from the northern coast of the Island of Cuba (from the southern side we have none so late,) come to us with glowing descriptions of the recent Aurora Borealis, which appears to have been as bright in the tropics as in the northern zones, and far more interesting.  The sky was no more, or at least but for a moment, completely lit up from the horizon to the pole, but the light came and went, now here, now there, now in this direction, now in that, and each time varying in outline and brilliancy.  During the three hours which followed it seems to have had almost every latitude and longitude possible in its field, and to have described every possible figure.’’


New Orleans Daily Picayune

September 7, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘At one time the northern portion of the heavens assumed an almost blood red appearance, while here and there long streaks of light shot up from the horizon to the zenith.  These rapidly changed their place and their form until they extended over the greater part of the sky, breaking through the reddish hues and finally covering nearly the whole face of the heavens.’’


New York Herald, August 29, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘Objects at a distance could be more readily and clearly distinguished than when the moon is at its full.  Now vivid arrows of light of most exceeding brilliancy shot up from the whole northern horizon; and, retreating, would again shoot higher and higher, until they covered the whole sky.  This continued to grow darker, first to scarlet, then to crimson, and finally to the blood red like appearance of an immense conflagration.  The whole sky appeared mottled-red, the arrows of fire shooting up from the north, like a terrible bombardment, of which we could see all and hear none, while the stars of greater magnitude shone through like sentry lights ...’’


Correspondence of the Journal of Commerce, Cleveland, Ohio

Washington Daily National Intelligencer

Friday, September 2, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘The light appeared in streams, sometimes of a pure milky whiteness and sometimes of a light crimson.  The white and rose-red waves of light as they swept to and from the corona were beautiful beyond description, and a friend near by us, while looking to the zenith with the whole heavens and earth lighted up at a greater brilliancy than is afforded by the full moon, said that it was like resting beneath the wings of the Almighty.  The crown above, indeed, seemed like a throne of silver, purple and crimson, hung and spread out with curtains or wings of dazzling beauty.  The tremulous motion of moving light, which the inhabitants of the Shetland Islands call ‘‘the merry dancers’’, was less apparent than usual, but in place of it came those full, bright, changing, but more steady streams of light, which gave an intense brilliancy to the whole heavens.”


Washington Daily National Intelligencer

Wednesday, August 31, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘The phenomenon had for 30 minutes a most magnificent appearance, the bands being in complete repose, forming a truncated cone of glory, the apex of which, if projected would have terminated in the zenith.  This brilliant and beautiful magneto-electric storm appeared again about 9.30 p.m.  flickering in brisk coruscations of most beautiful color from the horizon to the zenith, and when reaching the converging point, it produced at one time a beautiful halo, and at another period it had the effect of falling from the apex in showers of nebulous matter like star-dust’.”


The Hobart Town Mercury

Wednesday Morning, September 14, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘Aurora Australis most magnificent at 6:30 p.m., and continued visible until after 2 a.m., displaying itself to about 60 to 70 deg.  First colour above horizon, a light blue with a tint of green blending into second, a very light yellow green, again blending into third, a deep red: the reddy scintillations throughout this coloured light, like opening of a lady’s fan; dark heavy clouds.’’


At Cape Otway, Australia (38.9S, 143.5E)

 (Melbourne Argus, September 1, 1859).




 ‘‘About 10 [PM] a tremulous flashing up from the east was observed – soon after a bank-like arc of a circle was seen in the North, below which, the appearance was very sombre, resembling a very dark cloud.  From this arc soon shot up columns of light toward the zenith.  This was immediately succeeded by the most lively and brilliant succession of flashes, forcibly reminding one of that prophetic scene described by St. Peter, whose language is – ‘‘Wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.’’ This grand and sublime exhibition was succeeded by another brilliant display of columns of light shooting up again from the arc, with a slight show of the merry dancers.  Soon after this the light gradually faded and ceased to attract much notice’’


Boston Transcript

Saturday September 2, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘The auroral light sometimes is composed of threads like the silken warp of a web; these sometimes become broken, and fall to the earth’’


Providence Daily Post

Rhode Island, September 3, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘But two hours later, when the light, as a whole, was at its greatest brilliancy, the northern heavens were perfectly illuminated, with the exception of a few dim and almost imperceptible white streamers, which passed from the zenith nearly half way down to the northstar (sic).  At that time almost the whole southern heavens were in a livid red flame, brightest still in the southeast and southwest.  Streamers of yellow and orange shot up and met and crossed each other, like the bayonets upon a stack of guns, in the open space between the constellations Aries, Taurus and the Head of Medusa – about 15 degrees south of the zenith.  In this manner – alternating great pillars, rolling cumuli shooting streamers, curdled and wisped and fleecy waves – rapidly changing its hue from red to orange, orange to yellow, and yellow to white, and back in the same order to brilliant red, the magnificent auroral glory continued its grand and inexplicable movements until the light of morning overpowered to radiance and it was lost in the beams of the rising sun.’’


New York Times

September 3, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 ‘‘Early in the evening from the east there came a faint light, like that preceding the rising moon, while in the west a delicate crimson seemed to be thrown upwards, as if from the sun, long since gone down. 


Later, these strange fires overran the entire heavens – now separating into streamers, gathered at the zenith, and forming a glorious canopy – then spreading evenly like a vapour, shedding on all things a soft radiance; again, across the sky waves of light would flit, like the almost undistinguishable ripple produced by the faintest breeze upon the quiet surface of an inland lake; a pale green would now cover half the firmament from the east, while rich crimson met it from the west – then the ruddy light would concentrate itself at the zenith, while beneath it fell in folds of beauty the mild purple and green.


To the east and to the west lay huge fields of luminous clouds, tinted with a bright rosy flush, wholly unlike that produced by the rising sun and if possible even more beautiful.


Soon, as Everett has beautifully spoken of a somewhat similar scene, the hands of angels shifted the glorious scenery of the heavens.  The mass of apparent, red cloud to the east moved away southward, gradually failing, while the corresponding red clouds on the west seemed to sink into a chaos of dark cloud that, with a fringe of blue, skirted the western horizon.  Sheets of the same white luminous cloud again illuminated the sky, producing about the same amount of light as the full moon, and the night became almost as the day.


Cincinnati Daily Commercial

September 1, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




 “A Columbus Ohio, 16-year-old girl ‘‘of considerable intelligence and prepossessing appearance’’, who had been taken into custody by the Sheriff of Ottawa County was particularly effected by the aurora.  ‘‘Her agitated state necessitated that she be moved to the lunatic asylum.


The conclusion drawn from this, and no doubt her utterances, implied that she had become deranged from viewing the aurora borealis a short time ago.  She was convinced that all of this spectacular auroral activity meant that the world was soon to come to an end.’’


Harpers Weekly

October 8, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




...O ye wonderful shapes

With your streamers of light

Blazing out o’er the earth

From your ramparts of night;


With your strange hazy hues;

With your swift-changing forms,

Light the red-lightning rush

Of fierce tropic storms –


O ye terrible shapes!

Yet through all still appear

Yonder love-speaking eyes

Of the far starry sphere;


So ‘mid terror, we still

Can a symbol behold

Of the Heavenly Love

In the flame o’er us rolled;


Evermore, evermore

Though in mantles of fire,

There are pitying smiles

From our God and our Sire –


O Lights of the North!  As in eons ago,

Not in vain from your home do ye over us glow!


William Ross Wallace

The East Floridian

September 15, 1859

Sourced from Eyewitness Reports of the Great Auroral Storm of 1859

James Lauer Green  et. al.




This must have made an impression on many people.  I wonder if some of the bourgeoning schools of magic and mysticism that developed in the Victorian era were driven by folks witnessing this event.

Imagine how similar natural events like this could have made an impression on peoples long ago, all over the world!

So much of what we call religion might simply have started out as an interpretation of unusual heavenly or terrestrial wonders.  Layers of meaning and symbols may then be added upon the descriptions of the “Gods”.  Those symbols, descriptions and layers of meaning may then, over time, be refined, or co-opted, or jumbled around, or associated with other notions, to build an even more elaborate container of complex philosophical/cosmological notions, often more opaque than the original, often more silly than the original interpretation like, at first: “we saw something that looks like a flying serpent” which turns into “when will the flying feathered serpents return” which then turns into “the flying feathered serpent-gods are unhappy with our tribe’s conduct, and to appease the flying feathered serpents, sacrifices are required”.






















Description: Bird's-eye view of Peshtigo, before it was destroyed by fire on the night of October 8, 1871.


In 1871, on October 8th, in a small town in northern Wisconsin, a town of around 1700:


“The fire which destroyed Peshtigo occurred on the evening of the 8th, and history has never furnished a parallel of its terrible destructiveness.  Shortly after the church-going people had returned from the evening service, an ominous sound was heard, like the distant roar of the sea, or of a coming storm.  This increased in intensity, and soon the inhabitants became alarmed and apprehensive of coming danger.  Balls of fire were observed to fall like meteors in different parts of the town, igniting whatever they came in contact with.


Now bright light appeared in the south-west horizon, gradually increasing till the heavens were aglow with light.  But a few moments elapsed after this before the horrible tornado of fire came upon the people, and enveloped them in flame, smoke, burning sand, and cinders.  Those who had not now reached the river or some other place of safety were suffocated and burned to a cinder before they could advance a half dozen steps further.  God only knows the horror and terrible suffering of the whole town of Peshtigo on that memorable Sunday night.  It seemed as if the love of God had been withdrawn from the place, and the fiery fiends of hell had been loosened to wantonly vex and torment the people.


No tongue can tell, no pen can describe, no brush can depict the realities of that night.  Exaggeration would be utterly impossible.  It defies human ingenuity.  It was the destruction of Sodom re-enacted.  It seemed as the wickedness of the place had mocked God until his fiery thunderbolts were loosened for its destruction.  But now he who had been boldest in sin was first to call upon his Maker for succour…


The character of this fire was unlike any we have ever seen described before.  It was a flame fanned by a hurricane, and accompanied with various electrical phenomena.  Those that survived the terrible ordeal testify that they received electrical shocks, while they saw electrical flames flash in the air and dance over the surface of the earth around them.  But the fury of the flash was past in half an hour, though the fire continued to burn more or less fiercely during the whole night.


To one visiting the locality after the fire, the great wonder is not that so many people should have perished, but that a single individual remains to describe the fearful scene through which he passed.  Certainly no one of the few that did escape expected anything but certain destruction at the time.  The deadly, withering fire of the battle-field appals the stoutest heart, even though there is a hope that a victory and triumph may be gained.  But the enemy that came down on the miserable people of Peshtigo was irresistible.  All efforts to oppose it were futile.  Hope fled from every heart at the very onset of the storm.”


The Great Fires in Chicago and the West: History and Incidents

anonymous Chicago clergyman

Published by H. S. Goodspeed, 1871

Quoting from the testimony of

The Milwaukee Committee of the Young Men’s Christian Association




“Sunday, October 8th, in Peshtigo, passed as other Sundays had.  The dense smoke told of fires in almost every direction surrounding the valley; but so they had for weeks, and in general there was no especial fear of impending disaster that night.  But we hear of individual cases where a fear of impending danger seemed to take deep root in the mind.  It seemed as if a warning of the calamity, although dim and undefined, had been given to some.


The dense smoke could be seen to the south of the town (with) a dull red glare near the horizon.  Again a breeze sprang up from the southwest, and the air was hot as a sirocco.  Then came a low rumbling noise, like the distant approach of a train of cars.  The noise increased to a heavy roar, variously described as like the noise of thunder or a mighty wind, and the startled people rushed into the streets to ascertain the cause …  The roar increased, and burning coals began to drop in the village, first like stray meteors of the night, and then as thickly as the snows of winter.  Many of the survivors represent that the shower of coals was as dense as a heavy snow storm.  In less time than it takes to write it, the wind had reached the force of a tornado, the buildings nearest the woods were on fire, and the very air seemed an atmosphere of flame.


The bridge was soon on fire, and there was an awful scene: parties on each side suffering with the withering heat, and hoping to reach the other, where they fancied they could find safety, but unable to do so.  For large numbers of them the river was the only resort, and they plunged in, some to drown and others to escape after enduring the most fearful tortures.  Scores failed to reach the river at all.  Strangled by the smoke, or foul gases, or both, they fell, and their charred and shrivelled bodies lying on the streets present a ghastly and horrible sight the next morning.


Some were burned to death within a few feet of the river, some in their houses, some in the woods, and some on the roads attempting to escape.  But the difficulty of escape was so great that it is almost impossible to comprehend it.  Within a half an hour, and some say within ten minutes, of the time the first building caught fire, the entire village was in flames.  The great sheets of fire curled and rolled over the ground like breakers on a reefOverhead, the air seemed to be on fire.


Sketch of the Great Fires in Wisconsin at

Peshtigo, Sugar Bush, Menekaune, Williamsonville,

and Generally on the Shores of Green Bay.


Frank Tilton

Robinson & Kusterman Publishers

Green Bay, 1871

page 37+


Description: Peshtigonians finding refuge in the river.


“The atmosphere was heavy and oppressive, strangely affecting the strength and rendering respiration painful and laborious.  The only consideration that could have induced me to keep on working when I found it almost impossible to move my limbs, was the fear, growing more strongly each moment into a certainty, that some great catastrophe was approaching.


The crimson reflection in the western portion of the sky was rapidly increasing in size and in intensity; then between each stroke of my pickaxe I heard plainly, in the midst of the unnatural calm and silence reigning around, the strange and terrible noise already described, the muttered thunder of which became more distinct as it drew each moment nearer.  This sound resembled the confused noise of a number of cars and locomotives approaching a railroad station, or the rumbling of thunder, with the difference that it never ceased, but deepened in intensity each moment more and more.


The wind, forerunner of the tempest, was increasing in violence, the redness in the sky was deepening, and the roaring sound like thunder seemed almost upon us.  It was now time to think of the Blessed Sacrament – object of all objects, precious, priceless, especially in the eyes of a priest … of course I had intended from the first to bring it with me.  Hastening then to the chamber containing the tabernacle, I proceeded to open the latter … There was no time to delay, so I caught up the tabernacle with its contents and carried it out.


I re-entered to seek the chalice which had not been placed in the tabernacle, when a strange and startling phenomenon met my view.  It was that of a cloud of sparks that blazed up here and there with a sharp detonating sound like that of powder exploding, and flew from room to room.  I understood then that the air was saturated with some special gas, and I could not help thinking of this gas lighted up from mere contact with a breath of hot wind, what would it be when fire would come in actual contact with it.


I vainly called my dog who, disobeying the summons, concealed himself under my bed, only to meet death there later.  Then I hastened out to open the gate so as to bring forth my wagon.  Barely had I laid hand on it, when the wind, heretofore violent, rose suddenly to a hurricane, and quick as lightning opened the way for my egress from the yard by sweeping planks, gate, and fencing away into space.  ‘The road is open’,  I thought,  ‘we have only to start.’


The air was no longer fit to breathe, full as it was of sand, dust, ashes, cinders, sparks, smoke and fire.  It was almost impossible to keep one’s eyes unclosed, to distinguish the road, or to recognize people … Some were hastening toward the river, others from it, whilst all were struggling alike in the grasp of the hurricane.  A thousand discordant noises rose on the air together.  The neighing of horses, falling of chimneys, crashing of uprooted trees, roaring and whistling of the wind, crackling of fire as it ran with lightning-like rapidity from house to house – all sounds were there save that of the human voice.  People seemed stricken dumb by terror … The silence of the tomb reigned among the living, nature alone lifted up its voice and spoke.


The whirlwind in its continual ascension had, so to speak, worked up the smoke, dust and cinders, so that, at least, we could see clear before us.  The banks of the river as far as the eye could reach were covered with people standing there, motionless as statues, some with eyes staring, upturned towards heaven, and tongues protruded.  The greater number seemed to have no idea of taking any steps to procure their safety, imagining, as many afterwards acknowledged to me, that the end of the world had arrived and that there was nothing for them but silent submission to their fate.


It was about ten o’clock when we entered into the river.  When doing so I neither knew the length of time we would be obliged to remain there, nor what would ultimately happen to us … Once in the water up to our necks, I thought we would at least be safe from fire, but it was not so; the flames darted over the river as they did over land, the air was full of them, or rather the air itself was on fire.


The terrible whirlwind that had burst over us at the moment I was leaving home had, with its continually revolving circle of opposing winds, cleared the atmosphere.  The river was as bright, brighter than by day … When turning my gaze from the river I chanced to look either to the right or left, before me or upwards.  I saw nothing but flames; houses, trees, and the air itself were on fireAbove my head, as far as the eye could reach into space, alas!  Too brilliantly lighted, I saw nothing but immense volumes of flames covering the firmament, rolling one over the other with stormy violence.


The hour of deliverance from this prison of fire and water had not yet arrived – the struggle was not yet over.  A lady who had remained beside me since we had first taken to the river, and who, like all the others, had remained silent till then, now asked me:


“Father, do you not think this is the end of the world?”


“I do not think so,” was my reply, “but if other countries are burned as ours seems to have been, the end of the world, at least for us, must be at hand.”


It is a painful thing to have to speak of scenes which we feel convinced no pen could fully describe nor words do justice to.  It was (a few days later), the eleventh of October, Wednesday afternoon, that I revisited for the first time the site of what had once been the town of Peshtigo.  Of the houses, trees, fences that I had looked on three days ago nothing whatever remained, save a few blackened posts still standing, as if to attest the impetuous fury of the fiery element that had thus destroyed all before it.”


The Great Peshtigo Fire: An Eyewitness Account

By Reverend Peter Pernin 1874

Reprinted by The State Historical Society of Wisconsin 1971














On that same sinister Sunday, the 8th of October, 1871, when Peshtigo’s volunteer firemen were facing a threat that neither a thousand nor a million men could have coped with, the men of more than two score cities, towns, and settlements in Michigan were facing the same threat, the same wind, and often with the same result.”


Burning an Empire

The story of American forest fires (1943)

Stuart H. Holbrook

page 94



On the other side of lake Michigan:


“About 9 o’clock Sunday night a terrible tornado swept down from the southwest, thru the western side of the county, carrying death and destruction in its awful career…  The fire did not come upon the people gradually from burning trees or other object to the windward, but the first notice they had of it was a whirlwind of flames, in great clouds, from above the tops of the trees, which fell upon and enveloped everything.  The atmosphere seemed to be on fire.  The poor people inhaled it, or the intensely hot air, and fell down dead.”


Sturgeon Bay Advocate

October 14, 1921, page 8

Fire of Fifty Years Ago






On the very same day, at the very same hour, in Chicago, 250 miles from Peshtigo:


“As I opened the front door, I saw the cinders falling like flakes of snow in a storm … … As I looked to the south, the sky over the city was a bright red, glowing like a furnace, and studded with innumerable sparks, ignited cinders and blazing embers, shining like myriads of red stars; but I could see no flames nor even smoke.  Indeed, the absence of smoke from any point of view I had of the fire was a notable characteristic, which I attributed to the intensity of the heat … … It seemed as if I were alone in the city, that the last day had come, and the final conflagration of all things created was at hand …”


narrative of George M. Higginson within:

The History of Chicago from the Earliest Period to the Present Time

Volume 2, 1885, The A. T. Andreas Co. Publishers

pages 751-752



“A fierce see-sawing hurricane set in.  The fire appeared to tear up and instantly consume the firmer structures, while light and loose articles were hurled into the air like blazing torches.  A large mass of fire, seemingly two feet in length and one foot in thickness, arose from a spot just north of Taylor Street, and went whirling through the air for more than three blocks, alighting on the cupola of the German Catholic Church on the northeast corner of Mather and Clinton streets.  The entire building was almost instantaneously enveloped in flames.”



Account from Richard Riley

page 715



“… Every one has read, if he did not himself pass through the horrible experience, how the very air itself seemed full of fire, how the flames seemed to take giant leaps of many hundreds of yards, breaking out in points far away from the scenes of general disaster, and how huge balloons of flames swept through the sky, to descend and break like a burning [water] spout, licking up every vestige of human life and labor from open clearings to which many had fled as a haven of safety … … in the process devastating flames were kindled afresh in hundreds of places so far removed from the previous locality of the fire, that it seemed as if the havoc could only have been wrought by the torch of the destroying angel … ”



Narrative of Elias Colbert

page 702



“From the various recitals of individuals presented, a general idea of the terrors excited by this event may be gained; also a conception of the progress and magnitude of the conflagration.  No pen can do adequate justice to the subject.  No limner could depict the scene… …  There is nothing wherewith the fire can be compared.  It stands alone, a monument in the annals of pyrology … …  But when the reader looks intelligently at the enormous surface burned over, remembers the very brief time occupied in the destruction, and then reads the particular narrative or recital, he may arrive at some little comprehension of the catastrophe.”


“The incredible rapidity of the flames was noticeable here, as upon the South Side.  In fact, the mind is scarcely able to comprehend what is implied by this term, and none, save those who beheld the scenes of agony, can realize what is meant.”



page 754



“During all this time, the fire was falling torrents – there was literally a rain of fire…”


“There was a sea of fire to the south and southwest, the wind blew a perfect gale…”


“I saw the sky as it were in flames over my head and the streets lighted as if by lurid sunlight … … What a scene – a sea of fire!


“Here indeed commenced the total extermination of all that was combustible.  Buildings of every description were swept away, leaving the ground upon which they had stood a field of absolute waste … ”


“Some few incidents are inserted here to show how terrible was the fire.  When it had reached the business center of the city, it ceased to be governed by any of the ordinary rules that are commonly attendant upon even great fires, as the terms are usually understood.  In places, the heat could only be compared to that from the combustion of oxygen and hydrogen by means of a blow-pipe.  In places it would strike great iron columns nearly two feet square, and for four or five feet, perhaps more, the iron would be all burned up.  No residuum would be left.”



page 734



“Safes, if exposed to these jets of heat, were of no account whatever.  George Smith, banker, told me that they had standing in a back office a large safe full of ledgers and other books.  That safe and its contents were all burned.  Not a vestige of it remained to mark where it stood … …  Some of the freaks of the fire are scarcely credible.  Very reliable gentlemen reported that they saw jets of flame dart across an entire block, and in an instant envelop the building it struck in a winding sheet of lurid flame.”



Statement from Ex-lieutenant-Governor Bross

page 734



 “The fact that building stone was everywhere baked and blistered into mere chips, even where it was used only for sidewalk or foundations, attests to the fearful heat which prevailed everywhere.  But in the interior of buildings the fervour was unprecedented; as witness the melting of the great Court-house bell, the burning up of many safes, so that they could be punctured with a single touch of the crowbar, and the fusion of metals generally.”


Chicago and the Great Conflagration (1871)

Elias Colbert and Everett Chamberlin

page 528



“In the stores of Messrs. Heath and Miligan … … the temperature was above 3000 degrees, as shown by the melting of white lead and other stores requiring that degree of heat to fuse them.  How much hotter it became, there is no index to determine; but this is known: that large masses of iron, such as iron columns, and the framework of a large elevator, were literally burned up, so that no trace of them could be found.”


page 351



“Your readers may wonder what I mean by fire balloons, and I confess that I hardly know myself, and only use the term because it was so frequently used by others in conversation with me.  All of the survivors with whom I conversed said that the whole sky seemed filled with dark, round masses of smoke, about the size of a large balloon, which traveled with fearful rapidity.  These balloons would fall to the ground, burst, and send forth a most brilliant blaze of fire, which would instantly consume every thing in the neighbourhood.  An eyewitness, who was in a pool of water not far off, told us about the balloon falling right down on the Lawrence family, and burning them up.”






“We now come to a farm that was occupied by Philip Weinhardt, wife, and five children, a real good, solid, substantial German family.  The first warning any of them had, was the low, rumbling noise heretofore described.  The wife went to the door, found fire on every side of them, and believing the day of judgement was at hand, without an effort to save themselves, they all perished.  This idea of final dissolution was entertained, not by the ignorant only, as the most intelligent thought that the noise they heard was the echo of Gabriel’s trumpet.  Mr. Beebe, the Pesthigo Company’s Agent, as soon as he saw the fire, declared that the last hour had come, and, although repeatedly requested to save himself, refused to do so, and perished without an effort to get away.”






“The heat of the burning city was felt far away on the lake … … so hot was the wind over at Holland, Michigan, a hundred miles or more northeast of Chicago, that some parties there, on the afternoon of Monday, were obliged to go down behind a hedge, and let the scorching blasts pass over them.  They were unable then to account for the heat, and greatly feared that the time had come when ‘the earth and all things therein would be burned up’.  ”


The History of Chicago from the Earliest Period to the Present Time

Volume 2, 1885, The A. T. Andreas Co. Publishers

page 734




Credit must here be given to Randall Carlson, who is the one who compiled these accounts while pointing out the fact that this is no ordinary or even extraordinary “forest fire”.


So, just what the heck was going on there?

The reports of crackling sparks, strong gas, and noxious vapours, has led some people to conclude that marsh-gas was the cause.  This, in contrast to others that are sure it was a space-rock.  It could very well be both – space rocks, shattering crust, releasing underground gas deposits.

Even if it is “just” marsh gas, this is some serious freaking threat to the people of the region if this is a recurring phenomenon!  Let’s study marsh gas then!  I mean – this was not normal ! (at the very least).


Investigative journalist Carrie Poppy, in a talk called A Scientific Approach to the Paranormal, tells of how she was experiencing what she thought were ghosts in her apartment.  She could hear ‘whooshing’ sounds, and felt a heavy presence in her chest.  She freaks out, calls the 24-hour skeptic-hotline, and they say that the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: a pressure on your chest, auditory hallucinations, and an unexplained feeling of dread.

She calls the gas company and they tell her she was lucky because it could’ve killed her if they hadn’t sealed the gas leak in time.  She now devotes her life to investigating claims of the paranormal, as an effort in compassion and trying to understand people’s firm convictions, seemingly silly, which may, in fact, turn out to be based on some physical reality.

This same drive – this same compassion – could also be directed toward addressing religious madness and to revitalize narrow-minded zealous societies.  This is soooooo lacking among many lovers of science.  It is beyond them.  They can’t be bothered to read myths or scripture.  They see no value in it.  They can’t even carry on in dialogue with believers – it is beneath them.  They don’t care to appreciate what people get from these texts and practices, whether it be dealing with the grief of loss, fear of death, or reaching for spiritual exuberance, or seeking connections with others of a similar mind, and many more very understandable reasons why people begin to adopt religious constellations of ideas and practices.  The inception of their texts, if proven to be, at least partly, inspired by natural causes, might help the deeply zealous or even the mildly devout, to reconsider at least the origins of their beliefs, and of the absolute authority of their local religious leaders.

The spectacular wonders in the heavens and on earth, described in original religious/mythological works, might be rare, and therefore might be more difficult to study (Ball lightning for a great example).  The study of lightning in its various incarnations, the study of earth electrical charges and how they collect and discharge, how earthquakes produce electrical effects, how volcanoes produce electrical effects, how the aurora can go berserk both from solar flares and space rocks (and probably other causes); how the land would wither in a nuclear winter or volcanic winter or space-rock debris winter, how water courses might electrify, how waterways might evaporate from the heat of plasma storms or space-rocks exploding, how tectonic activity might very well go absolutely haywire under certain conditions, and how incessant rains can become a deadly and erosive force.  These rare grand-scale cataclysms and ekpyrosisms and electrosisms (floods, fires, electric discharges), being unusual and irregular, demanded an explanation from folks of old.  Can you blame them for interpreting the events the way they did?  Understanding all these better might help to bring the light of understanding to those within the folds of religious lore and practice.  You won’t de-program everybody, like a 90-year old nun, who can barely see or hear, might not get all the science facts and figures and charts; but others, especially those who feel stuck or unsatisfied in their current faith, might have an “aha” moment, if you can clearly demonstrate and explain, with respect, that their original texts speak of natural phenomena (at least in part).




Let’s imagine different species of wordsmith, writing the cryptic mythological poems and works of scripture, like those discussed throughout this work.


After having experienced severe bombardment from incoming space-rocks, and living through the clear effects caused by these assaults, being tedious to describe the events to others and with others not believing or caring about the fantastic events after they have well passed; this wordsmith takes it upon herself to immortalize the events by personifying them as animals with special abilities, or sky-gods, or earth-gods, with specific domains and abilities.

This first wordsmith, was inspired only by local events, and wrote a single piece of composition.

Maybe writing at the end of one’s hard life, with the new generations not having experienced the grand-scale chaos first-hand, story-form would survive better than dry annals which people will have a hard time to describe and understand rationally.

So, a local wordsmith, maybe without much education (knowledge of the works of other wordsmiths), immortalizes a single event, and maybe adds a few sprinkles of judgemental finger-pointing, and sources the judgement from these heavenly powers, rather than from the author.


Now, as a contrast, imagine another wordsmith, living in a time of settled warm abundance for generations on end, with shelves full of other works from other wordsmiths, from many ages long passed.  She absorbs many local myths, with many an anthropomorphised creature, tied to many principles of judgement and right conduct in context with these natural powers.  Maybe this wordsmith hears of or witnesses first-hand, some local bombardment and the reports match the events in those myths, and the old texts suddenly make sense.

This wordsmith might take a different tack.  She might read all of the other, more ancient, local myths along with their assigning powers of judgement over the deeds of men and women, and contemplate on all these matters deeply, and arrive at some more universal truths, and embed those within a more comprehensive and intricate myth, and laying out the details of how we repeatedly are forced to reboot, and all of the nasty details of the plagues that befall those in distress from heavenly assaults.

Then, maybe after this initial work has had a chance to play itself out, generations upon generations notice the effect of how this new scripture – this polished piece of symbolism, how it plays out over ages of darkness and brightness, how well it helps us to truly avoid calamity, or to truly become better people.  So it is then refined and refined, generation after generation, letter by letter.


(there are, of course, countless other species of wordsmith, outside, within, and between these two lines)




?  The events in the Bible and Qur’an are not factual historical events, to be pinpointed in time in the soil strata or ice core layers, or to be correlated with historical accounts.  For example, there is no Ark of the Covenant housed in a chapel in Ethiopia today!  (?)

The tale of Noah’s flood is a perfect example.  It is not a historical event, but it is written in a way to represent alllll such calamities – all wipings away – all ceasings of life.  As a clue, the authors described how the fear of Noah and the dread of Noah will be on all creatures – even the fish of the sea.  Dread and fear of Noah?  On the fishes?  From a guy that brings a flood – i.e. more water habitat?  Fish do fear and dread Noah, indeed, each time they dash away from a shark.


Noah is spelled gi   This combination of letters, this word (with different vowel markings) is also found to mean: “to cease, to rest, to die”.

From an established living entity g to disorganized non-living non-cooperative inertness i.  When a group of creatures (like cells in your body, or like bodies in cooperative network), when a group ceases to coordinate and cooperate and act in a unified fashion, for whatever reason.  To be, then, not to be.

This is the precise opposite of Eve (to become) – which started with i disorganised members, and ended up with t  - fresh new life.

The first 5 chapters of Genesis deal with the beginnings of new life, and the second 5 chapters deals with its opposite – the washing away – the ceasings of life.  The fact that Noah becomes “drunk with wine” is a perfect fit.

So, even if it turns out to be true that there are global floods, this scripture is referring, symbolically, to all such global floods, ever-recurring, as well as all ceasings of life, ever-recurring – not just by means of water.  Some events seem to be direct accounts from the time-period in which the scripture was written, as is the case with the Qur’an, but the events are put in the future tense – the day of calamity will come, for sure – indicating that recurring events are being forewarned and detailed (albeit certainly heavily inspired by contemporary events).




Here is an inventory of words with the letter combination gi


To cease, rest.

Settle, stay settled, rest.

Resting place, quiet place, tranquility, security, permanent (home).

Set, put, place, reside.

Wait, remain.

Lay aside - save, deposit, place.

Put off, put aside, allay, lower, let down, set down, lay down.

To die, deceased, death, repose.

To set out, to lift up, to carry off, send away, to remove, put in custody, station (troops), leave (people) with (someone), bring, lead, guide.

To be free.

Open space, free space, fire-alley.

To bless a deceased person.

Throw to the ground.

Rid (yourself of your enemies).


Leave (someone or something), let stay, leave (behind) - abandon.

Let, allow, permit, leave alone - let continue to exist.

Calm, quiet, cool, serenity, repose, leisure, pleasure, recreation, relief, alleviation, to be sated, to be soothed, to relax, to delight in.

Meekness, humility, gentleness, mildness, peacefullness.


To sigh, groan, murmur.

Placid, soft, to be pronounced softly.

Easy, convenient, easily accomodated, all right.

Comfort, joy, happiness, contentment, refreshment, ease of mind.

To satisfy, appease (one’s anger), give joy, gift, present, offering, sacrifice, to express reverence or respect or thanks or homage or allegiance, afternoon, prayer, tribute.

To be agreeable.

To make quiet, to give rest, to recreate, to placate, to serve.





We have enjoyed countless rises of civilization, much like our own; and countless demises, much like the episodes in the 500s+ and early 1300s.

In this context, with the super-myth – the comprehensive amalgamation of natural wonders embodied in myth, taken to the next level by imbuing philosophy and psychology, and every other –ology or –ism; these super-myths, or meta-myths: polished scripture; might be improved upon during ages of high technology and abundance of space and time to contemplate and improve upon, and to review just how well the current text worked to deal with the most recent dark age.  Imagine if there were thousands of years of detailed text and video to study – ages waxing and waning – a deep broad-based view of history, with the quality of records we store today, but over thousands of years.

In this scenario, the Bible and Qur’an, and other high-level polished mythological works, might be really really really old.




An alternative view – an alternative formulation to the meeting between history and Semitic scripture, would be that the books were written and catastrophes recorded, in their time, after they occur; and then, within generations, were incorporated into a single composition, with each generation carefully continuing to craft a symbolic tapestry for deep contemplation.

Mike Baillie, dendrochronologist, in Exodus to Arthur, finds narrowest tree-ring events at the points when Noah’s Flood (2347 BC) and The Exodus (1628 BC) take place (if you count the generations in the Bible).  He tries the same in David’s time, but was unconvincing.  But, his narrowest tree-rings for Noah’s flood and The Exodus are hard to ignore.  He didn’t just pick his favourite narrow rings to find a correlation – these just so happen to have been the dates of the very narrowest rings in the record.

The difficulty with this would be that: it is clear that the entire Old Testament is a single cohesive well-planned comprehensive mosaic describing, symbolically, the universe and life in all its various manifestations.  It was conceived of as a whole.  The narrative of the first 12 books of the OT, for example, form a cohesive symbolic narrative as well as a continuous timeline, taking us through all 3 of the events noted in the tree-rings (Noah/Moses/David and beyond).

Also, the material of the New Testament and of the Qur’an seem indispensible to the Old Testament narrative, both to complete the symbolic journey started in the Old Testament, but also for it to have a societal effect (gathering converts to the Old-Testament-fold - 3 major religions seemingly in competition).  My silly opinion, which you should take with a boulder of salt, is that these 3 works were all born out of common composition (albeit possibly collective composition over many generations – but still – a unified composition being worked on and understood as a whole).  It was one book, that was split as required.  This is only one possibility, out of many.

It might very well be the case that a historical flood did originally inspire the authors of the Old Testament to conceive of Noah’s story/symbolism in that time(2347 BC); and then, afterwards, it might very well be the case that a historical comet encounter inspired new authors to conceive of Moses’ story/symbolism, in their time (1628 BC), and so on; but, in order to now have such a cohesive unified work, the original bit with “Noah” would surely have to have been re-written/re-worked/re-imagined to be seamlessly incorporated into what is now a single unified whole.  Genesis – all that which precedes Moses – would offer an incomplete cosmology, on its own.




“Just as in the body of a man there are limbs and joints, just as some organs of the body are more, others less, vital, so it seems to be with the Torah.  To one who does not understand their hidden meaning, certain sections and verses of the Torah seem fit to be thrown into the fire; but to one who has gained insight into their true meaning they seem essential components of the Torah.  Consequently, to omit so much as one letter or point from the Torah is like removing some part of a perfect edifice.  Thence it also follows that in respect of its divine character no essential distinction can be drawn between the section of Genesis 36, setting forth the generations of Esau [a seemingly superfluous passage], and the Ten Commandments, for it is all one whole and one edifice.”


Rabbi Azriel of Gerona (1160 – 1238 AD)


Quoted from within: On The Kabbalah And Its Symbolism

Gershom Gerhard Scholem

Shocken books – New York


page 45

who cites it only as a quote within:

Perush Aggadoth

by Azriel of Gerona page 37. 

Azriel of Gerona: in his Kabbalistic commentary on the Talmudic Aggadah. 

In a separate footnote, Perush Aggadoth is cited as: ed. Tishby.



At the very very least, the modern accepted scholarly view of how the Old Testament was written, by 4 different authors (throughout the whole work) (with one writing for atyt and the other for qdtaf for examples) is complete nonsense.  This is called the “documentary hypothesis”, and this simply reveals the distinct nature of each name as applied in the text, rather than pointing out how the text was composed!    

It assumes the text is not an integrated whole, and that any sign of difference between these two names would diminish their mono-theistic interpretation.  They can keep their monotheism and just blame the authors for describing the same god in two different ways, erroneously!  Ha! 

Kabbalists of old would’ve cringed at such talk of a hodgepodgey FrankensTorah.




No matter how the authors of Semitic scripture came about to incorporate the themes of catastrophes and wonders – whether inspired by contemporary events or historical reports available in their time – whether the catastrophes were local or distant; and no matter how it came to be that the works are unified thematically/symbolically :  catastrophism is central subject matter in Semitic scripture – not even an ardent skeptic would deny this simple observation.

Natural catastrophes and wonders can and do inspire religions.

Even if it is only part of the tapestry of Semitic scripture, the authors were clearly obsessed with catastrophes and wonders.  It is a reasonable assumption that they were familiar or had knowledge of such natural events, some of which we might not be familiar with, in our time.


























The god comes, the god comes.

The earth trembles in fear at the coming of Ogdy.

The earth rises and falls beneath my feet, like waves of water.

My place of purification is overthrown, my lodgepoles topple.

The god comes.

The god calls out.

Blinding-bright, his tongue lashes the sky.

His roar booms off the hills, the heavens ring with it.

Ogdy is calling his avatar from the Lower World.

The earth at my feet tears open at the touch of his fiery tongue.

The god calls out.

Heeding the god’s call, the avatar arises.

Night-walker, Spawn of Darkness, Beast of Evil Heart,

From the Lower World he arises.

Insatiable, All-devouring,

As wild dogs tearing at entrails of their kill,

Heeding the god’s call, the avatar arises.


Shamanic Chant

Shaman Vasiliy Dzhenkoul

translated by Dieter Hoffman

Professor of Siberian Ethnography

Hamburg University

 The Tungus (Evenki) tribesmen

from the mouth of the Chuny

on the Stony Tunguska river

interviewed by Innokentiy Mikhaylovich Suslov in 1926




 “The Tungus have only one expression for the thunder — Agdy — by which they also describe the Old Man, the Lord of the Thunder, as well as all the thunderbirds that come down to earth and cause the thunder.  The Agdy birds are as big as black grouses, are made of iron, and their eyes are fiery.  The thunder arises from their flight above the earth and their eyes flash like lightning. All the Agdy have close relationships to certain shamans ... Some old shamans were great friends of the thunder, and this friendship has passed to their descendants.  That is why any wicked shaman can call the Agdy in order to do harm to a group of people he hates or even to a whole clan.”


Innokentiy Mikhaylovich Suslov

Materials on the shamanism of the Evenki Tungus on the Middle and Lower Tunguska.

Collected and recorded by IM Suslov 1926/1928

introduced, translated, annotated, etymological glossary and indexed by:

Karl. H. Menges. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz 1983, p. 4.

English translation by Joachim Otto Habeck




 “On 30 June, 1908, in the Tunguska region of Central Siberia, an area of inaccessible forest, surging rivers and roadless steppe, a (140-foot-long) tongue of flame shaped like a spear, a red fire-ball, larger and more brilliant than the sun, streaked across the sky followed by a train of dust and accompanied by a deafening roar, thunderous crashes and a terrific explosion (around 3-6 miles above ground).  A huge pillar of flame shot upwards, cutting the sky in two.  A black mushroom-shaped cloud rose into the atmosphere.  People were thrown to the ground (as were horses), windows broke, buildings creaked and groaned, the waters of rivers backed up against the flow, the driver of a train on the recently completed trans-Siberian railway stopped his engine in the steppe believing it had been derailed.  A giant (air)-pressure wave swept twice around the Earth.  The pendulums of seismographs agitated wildly.  The following nights were marked by fiery glows and brilliant skies.”


The Tungus Event

Rupert Furneaux

Panther books, 1977

Page 1


Description: Flattened forest after Tunguska air-burst.



The blast is estimated to have had the power of roughly 1000 Hiroshimas.

770 square miles of forest were uprooted and laid flat like new mown hay, all pointing away from the single blast point.

The air vibrated.

Farther away from the epicenter, subterranean rumblings were felt and heard, but without sharp earthquake jolts – more of a strange gentle swaying, to and fro.


Even with having exploded above-ground, it has left a permanent mark on the landscape, to this day, where even plants are afraid to venture:




From England, there was a spooky twilight emanating from the south-east.

Cricketers were enjoying matches at night.

Brits could read a newspaper after midnight.


Description: Spooky plasma formations over London's skies, after Tunguska event.




London, 1908:


 “Struck with the unusual brightness of the heavens, the band of golfers staying here strolled toward the links at 11 o’clock last evening in order that they might obtain an uninterrupted view of the phenomenon.  Looking northwards across the sea they found that the sky had the appearance of a dying sunset of exquisite beauty.  This not only lasted but actually grew both in extent and intensity till 2:30 this morning, when driving clouds from the east obliterated the gorgeous colouring.  I myself was aroused from sleep at 1:15, and so strong was the light at this hour, that I could read a book by it in my chamber quite comfortably.  At 1:45 the whole sky, N.  and N.E., was a delicate salmon pink, and the birds began their matutinal song.  No doubt others will have noticed this phenomenon, but as Brancaster holds an almost unique position in facing north to the sea, we who are staying here had the best possible view of it.”


Curious Sun Effects at Night

July 1st Letter to the Editor

The Times of London,

published Friday July 3, 1908




“The Tunguska impact probably destroyed around one third of the protective ozone layer.”


Tunguska Meteor Fall of 1908: effects on stratospheric ozone.

Science 214, 19-23

Turco, R.P., Toon, O.B., Park, C., Whitten, R.C., Pllack, J.B. and Noerdinger, P.





 “Kokorin doesn’t remember the exact day and year of the impact, but he remembers that it was three or four days before St. Peter’s, no later than 8 or 9 in the morning.  The sky was completely clear, there were no clouds.  He had gone into the bath-house (in the yard), and had just taken off his outer shirt, when suddenly he heard sounds resembling cannon fire.  He immediately ran out into the yard, which opens to the southwest and west.  At that point, the sounds were still continuing, and he saw in the southwest, at a height approximately half the distance between the zenith and the horizon a flying red sphere, and to its sides and behind it there were visible rainbow streamers.  The sphere flew for 3 or 4 seconds, and disappeared to the northeast.  The sounds were audible during the sphere’s flight, but they ceased right away when the sphere disappeared beyond the forest.”


Giant Meteorites

E. L. Krinov

translated by J. S. Romankiewicz

Pergamon 1966, p. 152.




 “I don’t remember the year exactly, but more than twenty years ago, when the fallow land was being plowed up, at breakfast time I was sitting on the porch of the house at the Vanavara trading station and facing towards the north.


I had just raised my axe to hoop a cask when suddenly I noticed how in the north above Vasily Il’ich Onkoul’s Tunguska Road, the sky split in two, and in it, high and wide above the forest, a fire appeared.  The heavens moved apart a great distance; the whole northern part of the sky was covered with fire.


At that moment I got so hot I couldn’t endure it, as if my shirt had burst into flame while still on me, and from out of the north, from where the fire was, there came an intense heat.  I wanted to rip off my shirt and throw it away, but at that moment the sky slammed shut, and a mighty crash resounded and I was thrown about three sazhen’s to the ground.  For a moment I lost consciousness, but my wife, running out, brought me back into the hut.


After the crash there came such a noise as if stones were falling, or a cannon was firing.  The earth trembled, and while I lay on the ground I covered my head fearing that the stones might smash it.


At the moment when the sky opened, a hot wind, as if from a cannon, blew past the huts from the north.  It left traces on the ground in the form of little paths, and damaged the growing onion plants.”


Giant Meteorites

E. L. Krinov

translated by J. S. Romankiewicz

Pergamon 1966, pp. 147-8.




 “I don’t remember exactly, it was the 17th or 18th of June 1908, around 8 o’clock in the morning that comrade Grabovskii and I were planing boards with a “two-hander”. The day was uncommonly sunny and so clear that we didn’t notice a single cloud on the horizon, no breeze was stirring, absolute silence.


...I was sitting with my back to the Angara river, to the south, while Grabovskii was facing me...  And then around 8 in the morning (the sun had already risen rather high) suddenly there was heard a distant, barely audible sound of thunder.  It made us look around on all sides involuntarily.  The thunder sounded as if it were coming from the Angara, so right away I had to turn abruptly in the direction that I’d had my back to, but in the sky around us not one stormcloud was visible anywhere, all the way to the horizon.  Assuming that the thunderstorm was still somewhere far away, we went back to planing boards again.  But the sound of thunder began strengthening so rapidly that we didn’t manage to plane more than three or four strokes before we had to throw down our planes and no longer sit, but rise up from the boards, since the sound of thunder already seemed to us to be something unusual, inasmuch as no stormclouds were visible on the horizon.


At the moment when I arose from the boards, amid the rapidly intensifying sound of thunder, there resounded the first, comparatively small crash.  It made me quickly turn halfway around to the right, that is, to the southeast, from whence there fell on me the beams of a bright sun, and I had to raise my eyes a little upwards in the direction of the crash of thunder I’d heard, in precisely that direction from which the sunbeams were shining on me.  This somewhat hindered my observation of that phenomenon which, all the same, showed itself visible to the eye the moment after the first peal of thunder — namely, when I quickly turned in the direction of the crash, the sunbeams were cut through by a wide, white-hot streamer from the right side of the beams, while from the left in the direction of the north (or, as seen from the Angara, beyond the Kezhma field) there went flying erratically into the taiga an even more white-hot (paler than the sun, but almost the same as the sunbeams) somewhat elongated mass in the form of a cloud, with a diameter far bigger than the moon....without any regularly defined edges.


After the first faint crash, in about two or three seconds, or maybe more (we had no watches, but the interval was on that order), there resounded a second, rather loud thunderclap.  If you compared it with a normal thunderclap, then it would be as loud as the ones that happen during a thunderstorm.  After that second crash...  the mass was no longer visible, but its tail, or more correctly its streamer, now found itself all on the left side of the sunbeams, having cut through them, and having become many times broader than it had been on the right side.  And right then, in a shorter interval of time than between the first and the second crashes, there followed a third thunderclap, one so strong it was as if it had several crashes mingled together inside of it, with such a crash that the ground shook, and throughout the taiga there reverberated such an echo, and not even an echo, but some sort of deafening solid roar.  It seemed that that roar enveloped the whole taiga of unencompassable Siberia.


It should be mentioned that, after the first and second thunderclaps, the carpenters working on the construction of the barn crossed themselves in total amazement (there were six or seven of them, all local peasants...), and when the third crash resounded, the carpenters fell off the building backwards onto some woodchips (not too far, about a meter and a half), and it was necessary to bring them to their senses and calm them, saying that everything was already over.  But they expected a continuation and said that probably the end of the world had already come and there would be a terrible judgment and so forth.”


Giant Meteorites

E. L. Krinov

translated by J. S. Romankiewicz

Pergamon 1966, p. 149.






“The famous story of the Tunguska meteorite, which L.  A.  Kulik worked to investigate since 1927, was explained to me by the Tungus at the mouth of the Chunya on the Stony Tunguska in a very simple way.  When, in 1926 at the Chunya, I talked with the Tungus about the catastrophe of 30th June 1908 - in order to obtain more exact data to be used for the forthcoming search operation for the meteorite - they persistently kept silent and deflected the inquiry into this event again and again; however, I persisted in my questions and they reported the following:


For a long time, there had been tribal feuds between a group of Tungus clans in the basin of the Stony Tunguska and clans living along the right tributaries of the Lower Tunguska.  Eventually, this hostility resulted in the shamans sending their evil spirits against each other to cause diseases.  Then one of the shamans called the Agdy to destroy the hated enemies.


In the early morning of the 30th June 1908 an interminable legion of Agdy came flying down upon the grounds of the Shanyagir clan and brought disaster to many families of the Shanyagir: some tents flew into the air, “higher than the forest”, and the people sleeping inside suffered from bruises; From [the herd of] Andrey Onkoul, a Tungus, 250 reindeer vanished without any trace; other Tungus' dogs and some reindeer were killed; the storage platforms with bread and equipment were destroyed; the forest, a real, ancient taiga, was flattened within a few seconds to an expanse of approximately 10,000 km² in the catchment areas of the rivers Chambe, Zhilushmo and Khushmo; there was a tremendous thunderous noise, which caused crevices in the earth (at this moment, the seismograph of Irkutsk recorded a really extraordinary type of earthquake).  Owing to these impressions, the inhabitants of that part of the taiga fled in panic in all directions, leaving every last one of their belongings behind.  All this is blamed on the Agdy.


Now many Tungus believe that only the Agdy can live at the place of that catastrophe; it has already been 20 years since then, and still nobody dares turn up in this area.


Already in the years 1912 to 1914, I had the opportunity to listen to not a small number of stories, which [were related to me] by the Tungus from the Ilimpiya, about the “miracles” of [the shaman] Magankan.  It seems that there is not a single Tungus among the ten clans of Ilimpiya who has not heard about how Magankan wanted to punish the spirits that resisted submission to his Khargi and abided in his body: he got those present to shoot directly with a rifle at him.  He then caught the bullet when it came out of his body and showed it to all people present.  Similarly, Magankan stabbed a knife to his chest with all his force, but no wound and no blood could be found.  The members of the clan Shanyagir ascribe the impact of the famous Tunguska meteorite, which at present is searched for by L. A. Kulik between the Stony Tunguska and the Chunya, to Magankan, too.”


 Innokentiy Mikhaylovich Suslov

Materials on the shamanism of the Evenki Tungus on the Middle and Lower Tunguska.

Collected and recorded by IM Suslov 1926/1928

introduced, translated, annotated, etymological glossary and indexed by:

Karl. H. Menges. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz 1983, p. 4.

English translation by Joachim Otto Habeck




If we return to this next account, from 1296, we can see yet another example of how real events can be turned into myth, fantasy, religion, and lunacy; rugged and fringe like the Evengi tribes and their shamans, or official and polished like the Church:




“A note concerning the fall of a gigantic meteorite in 1296 near Velikii Ustiug is interesting:


“On the second week at noon there suddenly appeared over the town of Ustiug a dark cloud and it was as dark as the night.  The people of the town upon seeing such a miracle were unable to comprehend what it was.  And after this there appeared great clouds rising from all four sides and from these clouds lightning kept flashing ceaselessly.


And it thundered over the town of Ustiug so strongly and horribly that it was impossible to hear people talk.  Even the ground seemed to sway continuously and shake as if terrified by this horror.  And clouds of fire arose and collided with one another; great heat arose from lightning and fiery thunder.”


According to this report which has been preserved to the present time, this meteorite which was called “stony swarm”, fell into the forest near the town of Velikii Ustiug.


For many centuries, up to the beginning of the current one, this event having had a religious tint imparted to it, was used by the church for its purposes.”


Principles of Meteoritics:

International Series of Monographs on Earth Sciences

Yevgeny Leonidovich Krinov

Pergamon Press, 1960

Translated from the Russian by Irene Vidziunas

Edited by Harrison Brown

Division of Geological Sciences, CalTec

Page 2




Natural events, often of a nature unfamiliar to us today, have clearly inspired myths and religions, or new sects within existing religions, or employed by religions “for their purposes”.

These texts and traditions, which mention these sorts of “gods” and “dragons”, are found worldwide, often with parallels.  These parallels don’t necessarily have to be borne from common composition, they might instead be borne out of common experience.

How a people view and interpret random wonders in the sky, is affected by as many factors as there are grains of sand on the seashore.

The works we have inherited – myths and scripture, are obviously intertwined with the reality of ecological processes on earth and in the heavens, with which we have had little to no experience with in our time.

We cannot interpret myths like Arthur, or polished scripture like the Bible or the Qur’an; without first fully comprehending the complexity of the natural world into which we are immersed.


The time-setting of the Norse Poetic Edda, the Book of Zoroaster, Beowulf, the dragon fights in the waters and forests of China described in the books of the Sui dynasty; the Arthurian legends, the legends of the patron saints Patrick, Brigid, Columba, and George; the Irish tales of Mongán mac Fíachnai, and the account from the Enoshima Engi; many relating celestial madness concurrent with earthly chaos – the time-settings for all these stories is during the ecological chaos which started in the 500s, with concurrent credible historical records of things like: sightings of a “terrifying and enourmous star, which was a comet”, something none of us have ever seen; a significant dip in tree-ring size (growth) – the narrowest rings in the last 2000 years, 18 months of thick haze smothering vegetation, at least 52 years of corrupted air (542-594), exceedingly terrible earthquakes like in 525, mountain removal like in Lake Geneva in 563, massive eruptions like Ilopango in 540, significant recurring plagues, droughts, flash floods, famines, depopulated regional landscapes “not a farmer left to till the soil”, or “9 out of 10 people perished”, resulting in much distress and “incursions of armies moving in various directions”, not to mention inducing the most veritable age of darkness in the last few millennia, with scant records being preserved from this time.

A great deal of what we read is from authors at the peak of the Medieval Warm Period, many even writing after 1200, repackaging those original works.  We are as far removed, in time, to these authors of the legends we have come to know and love; as they were removed, in time, to the period in which their stories were set!  They were writing around the 1200’s, concerning the 500’s.  Some were a little earlier and they probably had more source texts and surviving folklore from the 500s, but still, the point remains that we are only reading echoes of echoes.

And, the fact that society changed drastically, soon after this period of Arthurian-style-legend-making, in the ecological chaos of the early 1300s, is yet another blinder put on our interpretation of those texts – the spirit of writing these had been quickly lost – the context had been quickly lost.  We now just see them as children’s fairy tales, and nothing more.

These myths survived better than regular records from this period.  They give a better sense of what the 500s, 600s, & 700s were like.  Stories can survive better than dry annals, in times of distress, dislocation, dearth, or lack of education.

Before addressing the mythology of the surface layer of Semitic scripture, we would do well to study the various local myths and legends, which have much of the same tone of ecological chaos as the Bible and Qur’an, and which often even reference the Bible directly to describe these cataclysms with, Grendel, the monster in Beowulf, being introduced as a descendant of Cain, for example.

Through this exercise, in studying myth and scripture with an eye to natural processes unfamiliar to us, we would better position ourselves in averting future calamity; while, at the same time, beginning to comprehend the full intentions of the authors, and the depth of symbolism they included within the telling of the recurring disasters, in the surface narratives of polished scripture.
































At length, when there comes the Deafening Noise,-

That Day shall a man flee from his own brother,

And from his mother and his father,

And from his wife and his children.


Each one of them, that Day, will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to the others.


Some faces that Day will be beaming,

Laughing, rejoicing.


And other faces that Day will be dust-stained,

Blackness will cover them:

Such will be the Rejecters of Allah, the doers of iniquity.




When the sun (with its spacious light) is folded up;

When the stars fall, losing their lustre;

When the mountains vanish (like a mirage);

When the she-camels, ten months with young, are left untended;

When the wild beasts are herded together (in the human habitations);

When the oceans boil over with a swell;

When the souls are sorted out, (being joined, like with like);


When the female (infant), buried alive, is questioned -

For what crime she was killed;


When the scrolls are laid open;

When the world on High is unveiled;

When the Blazing Fire is kindled to fierce heat;

And when the Garden is brought near;-

(Then) shall each soul know what it has put forward.


So verily I call to witness the planets - that recede,

Go straight, or hide;

And the Night as it dissipates;

And the Dawn as it breathes away the darkness;-

Verily this is the word of a most honourable Messenger,

Endued with Power, with rank before the Lord of the Throne,

With authority there, (and) faithful to his trust.


And (O people!) your companion is not one possessed;

And without doubt he saw him in the clear horizon.


Neither doth he withhold grudgingly a knowledge of the Unseen.

Nor is it the word of an evil spirit accursed.


When whither go ye?


Verily this is no less than a Message to (all) the Worlds:

(With profit) to whoever among you wills to go straight:

But ye shall not will except as Allah wills,- the Cherisher of the Worlds.





When the Sky is cleft asunder;


When the Stars are scattered;


When the Oceans are suffered to burst forth;


And when the Graves are turned upside down;-


(Then) shall each soul know what it hath sent forward and (what it hath) kept back.


O man! What has seduced thee from thy Lord Most Beneficent?-

Him Who created thee. Fashioned thee in due proportion, and gave thee a just bias;

In whatever Form He wills, does He put thee together.

Nay! But ye do reject Right and Judgment!


But verily over you (are appointed angels) to protect you,-

Kind and honourable,- Writing down (your deeds):

They know (and understand) all that ye do.

As for the Righteous, they will be in bliss;

And the Wicked - they will be in the Fire,

Which they will enter on the Day of Judgment,

And they will not be able to keep away therefrom.


And what will explain to thee what the Day of Judgment is?


Again, what will explain to thee what the Day of Judgment is?


(It will be) the Day when no soul shall have power (to do) aught for another: For the command, that Day, will be (wholly) with Allah.






There is no better way to conclude this page, than with the conclusion of the Qur’an.

At the heart of the conclusion is the Quraish.  What is the Quraish?

The word Quraish appears a single time.  Just a single instance of this word, in the entirety of the Arabic Qur’an.

In the Yusuf Ali English translation of the Qur’an, however, the word Quraish, in the English, appears 5 times.

But, Quraish, in 4 out of these 5 verses, is found within parentheses, meaning that Yusuf Ali inserted those 4 instances of “Quraish” in the English.  They are not found in the original Arabic!

The following is the only verse, in the entirety of the Qur’an, in which Quraish is written, in the Arabic.  The Sura itself, is called The Quraysh in Yusuf Ali’s translation.


Quraysh, verse 1:


“For the covenants (of security and safeguard enjoyed) by the Quraish,”

   dqadqk zxac


2 words in Arabic.

11 words in English.

Anything in parentheses was added by the translator (as elsewhere).


The point here is: what exactly does the Arabic term Quraysh mean?

The context of this verse, within the text, is clear, but, let’s go through a probable etymology first:


In Jewish Babylonian Aramaic as well as in Christian Palestinian Aramaic, the same combination of letters (zxc) means “congeal”.  Also in JBA, we find “frozen”.

In the Aramaic New Testament, like in John 18:18, the term means: “cold”.

Elsewhere in Syriac vocabularies, we find it translated as “refrigeration, snow, frost

Palestinian Targumic Aramaic (the Aramaic found in the margins of the Hebrew Bible, to convey its meaning for Aramaic speakers) employs the term as “cold, frost”, as is the case with Late Jewish Literary Aramaic.


If Quraysh is used to refer to a people, in the Qur’an, then they have something to do with “coldness”.  Maybe they are simply cold.  Maybe it’s as simple as that.  People who are cold.


What do people who are cold seek?

Warmth and shelter from the elements.


The context where the term Quraysh is found involves taking care of those in distress, in this case, specifically – providing shelter:






When the earth is shaken to her (utmost) convulsion,

And the earth throws up her burdens (from within),

And man cries (distressed): 'What is the matter with her?'-


On that Day will she declare her tidings:

For that thy Lord will have given her inspiration.

On that Day will men proceed in companies sorted out, to be shown the deeds that they (had done).


Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it!

And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it!




By the (Steeds) that run, with panting (breath),

And strike sparks of fire,

And push home the charge in the morning,

And raise the dust in clouds the while,

And penetrate forthwith into the midst (of the foe) en masse;-


Truly man is, to his Lord, ungrateful;

And to that (fact) he bears witness (by his deeds);

And violent is he in his love of wealth.


Does he not know,- when that which is in the graves is scattered abroad

And that which is (locked up) in (human) breasts is made manifest-

That their Lord had been Well-acquainted with them, (even to) that Day?






The (Day) of Noise and Clamour:


What is the (Day) of Noise and Clamour?


And what will explain to thee what the (Day) of Noise and Clamour is?


(It is) a Day whereon men will be like moths scattered about,

And the mountains will be like carded wool.


Then, he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) heavy,

Will be in a life of good pleasure and satisfaction.


But he whose balance (of good deeds) will be (found) light,-

Will have his home in a (bottomless) Pit.


And what will explain to thee what this is?

(It is) a Fire Blazing fiercely!




The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things),

Until ye visit the graves.


But nay, ye soon shall know (the reality).


Again, ye soon shall know!


Nay, were ye to know with certainty of mind, (ye would beware!)

Ye shall certainly see Hell-Fire!

Again, ye shall see it with certainty of sight!

Then, shall ye be questioned that Day about the joy (ye indulged in!).




By (the Token of) Time (through the ages),

Verily Man is in loss,

Except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy.




Woe to every (kind of) scandal-monger and-backbiter,

Who pileth up wealth and layeth it by,

Thinking that his wealth would make him last for ever!


By no means!   He will be sure to be thrown into That which Breaks to Pieces,

And what will explain to thee  That which Breaks to Pieces?

(It is) the Fire of (the Wrath of) Allah kindled (to a blaze),

The which doth mount (Right) to the Hearts:


It shall be made into a vault over them,

In columns outstretched.




Seest thou not how thy Lord dealt with the Companions of the Elephant?

Did He not make their treacherous plan go astray?


And He sent against them Flights of Birds,

Striking them with stones of baked clay.


Then did He make them like an empty field of stalks and straw, (of which the corn) has been eaten up.




For the covenants (of security and safeguard enjoyed) by the Quraish,

Their covenants (covering) journeys by winter and summer,-

Let them adore the Lord of this House,

Who provides them with food against hunger, and with security against fear (of danger).




Seest thou one who denies the Judgment (to come)?


Then such is the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness),

And encourages not the feeding of the indigent.


So woe to the worshippers

Who are neglectful of their prayers,

Those who (want but) to be seen (of men),

But refuse (to supply) (even) neighbourly needs.




To thee have We granted the Fount (of Abundance).

Therefore to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice.

For he who hateth thee, he will be cut off (from Future Hope).




Say: O ye that reject Faith!

I worship not that which ye worship,

Nor will ye worship that which I worship.


And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship,

Nor will ye worship that which I worship.


To you be your Way, and to me mine.




When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory,

And thou dost see the people enter Allah's Religion in crowds,

Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy).




Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he!


No profit to him from all his wealth, and all his gains!


Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of Blazing Flame!


His wife shall carry the (crackling) wood - As fuel!-

A twisted rope of palm-leaf fibre round her (own) neck!




Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;

Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;

He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;

And there is none like unto Him.




Say: I seek refuge with the Lord of the Dawn

From the mischief of created things;

From the mischief of Darkness as it overspreads;

From the mischief of those who practise secret arts;

And from the mischief of the envious one as he practises envy.




Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind,

The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,

The god (or judge) of Mankind,-

From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),-

(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,-

Among Jinns and among men.








This “tribe”, the Quraysh, is ever-present – this need – like taking care of the homeless, whether it be winter or summer – this is not only a tribe of desert nomads, having lived in a single point in time, having experienced insane ecological disasters.  It is this, but also a deeper reflection on ever-recurring calamities (or things like persistent homelessness).  In this way, the events mythologized are put into a narrative of recurring, often even everpresent needs, enriching the text, raising it to a different level, making it relevant not only in that specific time, but today as well.


When ecological calamities put pressure on people, and people are calling out for help, this will be the true test of one’s inner nature.

When the sky is cleft apart, and fire-balloons fall, devastating your crops, and you are left destitute, where would you go, without the help of Allah?  Then, your deeds, good or bad, will finally come full circle.

If you have done poorly to others, maybe you will consider just adding fuel to the fire, and calling it quits.

If you have done well, you can proudly call out for help, seeing as you know you deserve it, and you have no bad karma to account for.


Imagine you are standing in the aftermath of a severe earthquake, unlike ones we have seen in our time, and you hear multitudes crying out for help under the rubble.

Who’s in command now?

When tending to deep wounds, and the victim is screaming out for relief, in terrible agony,

Who’s in command now?

Generous and kind folk, in this instance, often report “Time stood still, I wasn’t thinking of myself at all, I risked it, went for it, broke through, and saved the person from distress…”.


This might very well explain why there are two d in qddt










































“On 13 May 1953, twenty F-84s of the Fifty-eighth Fighter Bomber Wing attacked the Toksan Dam, producing a flood that destroyed seven hundred buildings in Pyongyang and thousands of acres of rice. On 15-16 May, two groups of F-84s attacked the Chasan Dam.  The flood from the destruction of the Toksan dam "scooped clean" 27 miles (43 km) of river valley. The attacks were followed by the bombing of the Kuwonga Dam, the Namsi Dam and the Taechon Dam. The bombing of these five dams and ensuing floods threatened several million North Koreans with starvation; according to Charles K. Armstrong, "only emergency assistance from China, the USSR, and other socialist countries prevented widespread famine."




In the late 60’s:


“The United States dropped upwards of 2.7 million tons of bombs on Cambodia, exceeding the amount it had dropped on Japan during WWII (including Hiroshima and Nagasaki) by almost a million tons. During this time, about 30 per cent of the country's population was internally displaced.”




Maybe it is going too far to say that preventing space-rocks from hitting us is the top-most priority on Earth right now.  Humans are definitely responsible for ecological chaos (we are part of ecologies too), and the bloated capacity for it now, in the hands of imbeciles, is a true ecological threat, rivalling even the conflagration of Phaethon.

It would be a shame to have a common enemy, a space rock, be the thing that brings nations together, to work together to a common purpose.  We could open our arms to embittered nations, like North Korea, well before we need everybody’s help for a global effort in survival. 

When the time comes, and history repeats itself, in that day, you will praise the LORD God, you will need to call upon many hands to help preserve life and limb, and then you’ll be forced to be nice.  You could instead, start making amends, America, well before the time of need.  You could start by reading your own history, and considering what Justice means to you.






























Randomness, chaos, calamities, irregular events – things out of the ordinary, are more infrequent on larger scales, yet, seeing as larger processes take longer to play out, what is random, chaotic or irregular takes longer to play out, and can even last for multiple generations.  So, when a random event in celestial realms occurs, it may seem to be a permanent and regular and normal state of affairs, dominating several generations of life on Earth.


If you get hit by a small rock, a typical wound heals within days to a week.

If Earth gets hit by a similar scale rock, the effects (although wildly different), would take much much longer to heal, maybe even hundreds of years, maybe even thousands of years in the worst cases.


When a comet breaks up, the fragments within the meteor stream it feeds may take many human generations to fully disintegrate or for all the impacts to fully play out, to empty the meteor stream of threats.  This random period of sky-firework-displays and concentrated bombardment, may then seem ordinary business as usual for the generations living within that relatively long span of time (in the eyes of us humans).


If you get a sunburn, you can heal within a week or two.

If the sun goes berserk and bombards Earth with showers of plasma, and cooks the mountaintops, it could take decades, maybe centuries, maybe even a thousand years, for Earth to fully recover.


If a lightbulb in your home flickers – goes dim for a moment, it is usually a temporary dip in voltage, usually caused by something like a blender starting up.

If the sun flickers – goes dim, it usually lasts hundreds of years, and probably oscillates on all sorts of other time-scales.


Small storms with local lightning bursts and local downpours, causing local floods, take less time to recover from, compared with global electrical discharges or global downpours, eroding topsoil, inviting disease, inducing famine.


Small volcanoes, and small local earthquakes don’t really take all that long to play out, but large volcanoes can shroud Earth in a dust cloud for a few years afterwards; and large disturbances in the crust can trigger a series of earthquakes taking decades to fully release all the stored energy, in a cascading sequence of earthquakes.


Large volcanoes erupt infrequently.

Large earthquake sequences are infrequent.

Large rocks hitting the Earth are infrequent.

Large plasma storms are infrequent.

Large electrical storms are infrequent.

Large floods are infrequent.


These are so infrequent, that none are within living memory.


But, when these infrequent events do happen, the chaos can persist for generations – so that by the time the dark age induced wraps up, there is no longer any living memory of what normal Earthly life looked like.  In the meantime, significant changes in human thinking might have been induced, and even new religions may arise or be imposed, and new orders of power created or imposed.


Most people living during the 2-3 disease and pestilence-rich centuries after the events starting at around 500 AD, after a generation or two, would probably not realize they are living in an abnormal situation.

Most people living during the centuries-long Medieval Warm Period, between around 800 and 1300, probably didn’t realize that they were living in a warm period, especially after a generation or two began to enjoy the ice-free comfy lifestyle, and memory of the severe 500s faded away.

Most people living during the Little Ice Age, between roughly 1300 to 1850, peaking between 1645 and 1715, would probably not be aware that they were living in a Little Ice Age.  Astronomer Edmund Halley, having lived most of his life in the depths of the last recorded significant dip in solar output (this Little Ice Age), never saw an aurora (northern lights) until he was sixty years old.  So, this irregularity – the lack of aurora due to a temporarily dimming sun, can span an entire human lifetime, maybe longer, and may seem to be business as usual.


Dark Ages, brought forth by large disturbances, do not immediately induce ignorance and loss of memory, it may take multiple generations to lose knowledge and wisdom previously enjoyed.  Books, oral traditions, good-cheer, good-will, and luck, can keep the memory alive for a few generations.  Likewise, when these disturbances are cleared up, and we wipe our eyes clean of the dust of a dark age, and flourish under newly prosperous conditions, it may take multiple generations to shake off the ignorance and restore memory – memory of past civilizations – memory of former ages, dark and bright.  The effects of burning books, burning “witches”, enslaving people, and committing genocide, can keep the minds of men and women stagnant and ignorant for generations after a dark age wraps up, well over 170 years now in our particular situation today.  The same was seen at the transition between the dark ages ushered in by the severe global ecological chaos of the 500s+ (which included a period of the most severe cooling in the last 2000 years as recorded in tree-rings in 536 and 541), and the Medieval Warm Period – where you had Vikings continue Dark-Age habits, well into the beginning of a new prosperous warming phase, around the 800s up to 1050 – well after warming had started.  In our warm period, the Vikings haven’t stopped their campaigns yet.


Some of the unfortunate ones who find themselves born into a dark age of “regular” chaos, must wonder if those before prepared for this inevitability, or if humankind just stumbled into yet another period of hell on Earth, without trying to avoid it, and without bothering to do basic things like store grain.