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Did an Indonesian Volcano Start the "Dark Ages"?
Iceland Volcano Conjures Up Recollections
Iceland has caused us to ponder. "Wow. A volcano can happen anywhere!" Of course, heated molten rock has nothing to do with the local weather. Volcanoes happen where they happen. They are the 800 pound gorillas of the earth's surface. Hawaii exists because of volcanoes. Iceland would not be there were it not for what we are watching on TV. But since we are the creatures that we are, we settle on the land and notice its properties, and start to plant and live and make babies and establish villages. A local Icelandic farmer who farms nearby asks why he is being punished. "My great grandfather started this farm". The "gods" might say: "Seems to me you guys got a great reprieve."
Iceland Makes Us Realize Volcanoes Aren't Just Far Off and Away
As a species we are downright amazing to watch. We forget, and forget, and then we go into trauma, then we forget again. There are millions of people now settled around Mt. Vesuvius. What was once a desolation of the City of Pompeii is now a tourist spot and romantic center of Southern Italy. History is meaningless and dire warnings are futile. Naples is like San Francisco. People develop a "devil may care fatalism" or a resigned philosophy. "If I die, I die." Mt. Rainier peers out toward Seattle and terrifies people and the prognosticators say: "Not in our lifetime". That's probably good enough for most of us. We hope to get our "3 score years and 10" and our grand kids, well, we have to deal with what we have to deal.
Krakatoa - Pacific Nightmare Near Java
The last Iceland Volcano in 1821. They say it lasted one or two years. No one wants to even think about that. But the thing volcanologists love to think about, (but only historically) is Krakatoa. Since it is far away for must of us, it has to be considered the A Number One Boil on the planet by most scientists concerned with the topic. It is theorized that one super eruption darkened the sun for years. It occurred in the 500 AD's and affected weather patterns for almost a century; cooling northern climes and cementing the "Dark Ages". It is said to have changed agriculture in Northern Europe for a long time, and, as one speculated, to the rise of the plague in the 600's, the end of the "Arthurian time" (Camelot) and the rise of Islam, as the southern parts of that region thrived. Krakatoa of the late 1800's, it is postulated, caused the devastating harsh winters in America in the 1880s. Krakatoa is on simmer right now, but the simmer is forming a new island as we speak.
The Eastern Med - Volcano Country - An Incredibly Active Seismic Zone
In the Eastern Mediterranean about 3500 years ago, it was much different from today. Today, many tourists travel to the white-painted villages on the Isle of Santorini. If you have flown over it, it looks like a finger nail clipping in the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean. It now makes an idyllic retreat for worn out Americans and Europeans who just want to kick back, lounge, drink Ouzo and bask in the warm sunlight. The people are wonderful, tourist tuned and have the handsome look of an ancient people. At least that's what the travel agencies tell us and the experienced traveler can attest to.
But once upon a time, this finger nail clipping of an island was the center of Mediterranean life. They were the Minoans, a powerful sea faring and trading people in the Late Bronze Age. They made this island one of their homes for their nearby capital of Crete. This is Volcano country if you have ever heard of it. Countless small eruptions over the centuries have occurred on small islands, reformed others and made a panoply of historical moments for the peoples of that region.
There was a volcano there in 1650 and many more small ones. The most recent in 1949 made the news but didn't cause cataclysm. The destruction of the Minoan civilization on Crete and these neighboring islands actually made way for replacing cultures and civilizations. The power vacuum created at that time, allowed for the rise of Grecian city states, and the Phoenicians of Biblical Lore and other powers to then dominate and influence this area. Egypt, was historically already founded and was not permanently damaged by the Volcano. However it might have been affected in another way, by assisting Moses with his people-moving exercise, and thus causing a diminution of their power and influence.
Santorini Was The Island of Thera
This volcano truly popped. It literally blew away the island, then known as Thera, and created the Caldera that is now Santorini. Then, tsunami waves crashed into Egypt, the east, the north and the west, continually pounding the region with large waves and causing dense dark ash thickened skies. The ash, they say, ascended to 50,000 feet. When it blew, it just turned villages into mist and crashed boats and ships for miles and miles. Archaeologists that study this keep on finding evidence of the destruction. Newer theories about the story of Exodus and the Children of Israel have made fabulous TV watching and tie in various issues that many have thought about for years, such as the possible location of Mt. Sinai, and even the Sea of Reeds, versus the "Red" Sea.
While the particulars as to how these effects might have caused the Plagues of Egypt are for a book, or at least another article, the fact remains that this volcano caused the displacements of peoples, movements into old areas and new commerce and cultural identity of formerly unknown peoples.
Historic Power and Destruction - Exodus and Diasporas and Immigrations
The "Danous" people that came to Greece are thought to be the Israelitish movement after Moses' relocation efforts. Golden images and relics make connections back to the peoples who were on the move after the Exodus. The tribe of Dan was always in motion. Dr. Herman Hoeh, an expert on legends concerning this time, talked about how Moses sons, having lost a real place at the table because Brother Aaron's children became the Aaronic priesthood, took a trip out of the area of the Holy Land, around the Pillars of Hercules to the Ancient Land of Ireland. The "Cohan" (priesthood and name of Moses kids) is a familiar Irish name. George M. Cohan, being a modern representative. The people who left Egypt eventually created a land that would become known for its outermost limits. As we would say from "Maine to California", or from "Florida to Alaska", the land was said to encompass from "Dan to Beersheba" (Dan, up north by modern day Syria, and Beersheba in the southern desert). The Children of Israel would eventually make a true Kingdom under Davidic lineage through Solomon. The lineage continuing through Nathaniel to the family of Mary, Mother of Jesus.
Greece itself, without the competition from the destroyed Minoan civilization began to thrive, and Alexander in the 300's BC took his Macedonian armies all the way to the Indus River, and established a Hellenized culture that affected the very nature of western culture. The western part of the Mediterranean was not as affected as much by this volcano, and it also thrived after this period. Villages grew and cities blossomed. The Minoans were not around anymore, controlling commerce, so western "vills" could make their own impact on history. Places like Carthage and Rome might come to mind.
No More Hubris
Since the Minoans were gone, people like the Phoenicians also make their mark on history. They were excellent sea faring peoples. These Semitic peoples made commerce through the Straits of Gibraltar (the Pillars of Hercules) doable. Their sailing technologies and skills allowed for movement around Spain to England and Ireland and the Eastern part of France. Hubris, a word for "excessive pride" was coined because that is what the Greeks called Gibraltar. In their minds, you were taking your life in your hands, and were defying the gods if you went past that sign post into the Atlantic. The Greeks and the Romans were not exceptionally skilled seaman and their boats did not cut through the waves, like the Phoenecians' did. (The Greeks and Romans made their living fighting on land.) The Phoenicians were the Navy of the Mediterranean, and this is the way they established themselves and promoted trade after the Theran Destruction. It no longer was tempting the gods with "hubris" to go through Gibraltar. Joseph of Arimathea's tin trade with Britain shows how trade developed in Roman times.
Causes of Volcanoes
Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is the Timing of Volcanoes. Astrological cycles try to track them to the movement of Pluto or Neptune. Astrology and astronomy may indeed have undetectable influences, but the very earth that we stand on is the main object of study. Still, predicting is beyond our wizardry at this moment. When we stare at the might being displayed on periodically historical moments, maybe we should lie down and put our heads in our pillows with a little more thankfulness. Thankfulness that these volcanoes are as measured and non-periodic as they are. Christofer French is the Founder of Astrologygetalong.com.