9 Natural Disasters That Shook the Ancient World ...


In many cases throughout history, natural disasters have caused destruction on a global scale, with seas often engulfing large masses of land, or resplendent civilizations being swept away by drought, plague or earthquakes.

In the following, we will take a look at some of the most notable disasters the ancient world has seen.

1. The Damghan Earthquake

The Damghan earthquake of 865 AD is considered today to be the 5th most destructive earthquake in recorded history.

With its epicenter estimated at right under Damghan – the capital of Iran at the time – the 7.9 degree magnitude earthquake has led to the death of more than 200,000 people.

2. The Antonine Plague

The Antonine plague has struck the Roman Empire between 160 and 180 AD and was named after the then emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.2

Caused by a naturally occurring disease, it spread throughout the Empire, its death toll being estimated at more than 2,000 per day.

3. Pompeii

One of the greatest natural disasters that shook the ancient world was the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which lead to the burial of the entire city of Pompeii under stone and ash.

Thousands of victims died, and their gruesome fate was immortalized as the cooling volcanic rock left perfectly preserved β€œstatues” of Pompeii's unfortunate residents.

4. The Minoan Eruption

Yet another important catastrophe of ancient history is the Minoan Eruption.

Occurring in 1646 BC on the island of Santorini, it was responsible for widespread damage that reached the island of Crete – both islands having been inhabited by the Minoans.2

Strangely, no victims of the eruption were ever found.

5. Plague of Justinian

The cultural implications of this plague were close to that of the Black Death in the 14th century.

It had spread to Northern Europe, as well as areas like Arabia, Asia and Northern Africa, returning occasionally until about 750 AD and having a lasting impact on European development throughout the years.

The Central Asian Drought
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