A joint research project of the Chronology Laboratory of the Finnish Museum of Natural History and Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) suggests that large volcanic eruptions in the years 536 and 541–544 CE resulted in unusually gloomy and cold period with little light, making it difficult for humans to survive. The level of production of plants is dependent on the amount of available sunlight. Food production, i.e, farming and animal husbandry, rely on the same solar energy. Humans, meanwhile, become more prone to disease if they are not exposed to enough sunlight to produce vitamin D.

The large volcanic eruptions of AD 536 and 540 led to climate cooling and contributed to hardships of Late Antiquity societies throughout Eurasia and triggered a major environmental event in the historical Roman Empire, study authors say. “Our set of stable carbon isotope records from subfossil tree rings demonstrates a strong negative excursion in AD 536 and 541–544.” 

Read moreVolcanic eruptions during Roman times plunged Eurasia into hunger and disease