Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Science of Biblical Plagues
This is a good item that works to make sense out of the ancient reports that we are so familiar with. First though, once again the writers associate
Santorin with the events that took place around the reign of Ramses II. This is nonsense. The two events are clearly separated by almost half a millennia.
The event that is associated in time and place is the
Hekla blast that went off in 1159 BCE. This collapsed the high European Bronze age and certainly was felt throughout the Mediterranean. The resultant tsunami destroyed Atlantis by Gibraltar and ended the Atlantic metal trade from the . It also coincided with the end of the much warmer Bronze Age climatic optimum. Americas
1159 BCE is the only date that we presently hold with any precision. The other dates mentioned are very uncertain and it would be lovely to lock down the reign of a pharaoh to the
Hekla blast and the sea peoples and the philistines. It is all in the mix and covering a very few generations.
Certainly Santorin has similar effects centuries earlier and would have been described in the written records available to someone like Moses who would expect a repeat upon the first reports about
Hekla. We need to recall that eruptions drag on for months.
I have not tried to get too involved over time frames and the likely history although I have posted quite a bit of the apparent history. It is enough to say that a good story line hangs together and that a lot of facts on the ground arose at this time to be incorporated into the biblical narrative. My one admonition is that the facts are quite real but there is no reason to think that they happened in quite the order they got written down. It would simply have been too difficult.
After all, what sort of report do you expect from a group of folks hot footing it out of town two steps ahead of an irate pharaoh?
Biblical plagues really happened say scientists
The Biblical plagues that devastated Ancient
in the Old Testament were the result of global warming and a volcanic eruption, scientists have claimed. Egypt
By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
Published: 11:00AM GMT 27 Mar 2010
Researchers believe they have found evidence of real natural disasters on which the ten plagues of
, which led to Moses freeing the Israelites from slavery in the Book of Exodus in the Bible, were based. Egypt
But rather than explaining them as the wrathful act of a vengeful God, the scientists claim the plagues can be attributed to a chain of natural phenomena triggered by changes in the climate and environmental disasters that happened hundreds of miles away.
They have compiled compelling evidence that offers new explanations for the Biblical plagues, which will be outlined in a new series to be broadcast on the National Geographical Channel on Easter Sunday.
Archaeologists now widely believe the plagues occurred at an ancient city of
Pi-Rameses on the Nile Delta, which was the capital of during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses the Second, who ruled between 1279BC and 1213BC. Egypt
The city appears to have been abandoned around 3,000 years ago and scientists claim the plagues could offer an explanation.
Climatologists studying the ancient climate at the time have discovered a dramatic shift in the climate in the area occurred towards the end of Rameses the Second's reign.
By studying stalagmites in Egyptian caves they have been able to rebuild a record of the weather patterns using traces of radioactive elements contained within the rock.
They found that Rameses reign coincided with a warm, wet climate, but then the climate switched to a dry period.
Professor Augusto Magini, a paleoclimatologist at
's institute for environmental physics, said: "Pharaoh Rameses II reigned during a very favourable climatic period. Heidelberg University
"There was plenty of rain and his country flourished. However, this wet period only lasted a few decades. After Rameses' reign, the climate curve goes sharply downwards.
"There is a dry period which would certainly have had serious consequences."
The scientists believe this switch in the climate was the trigger for the first of the plagues.
The rising temperatures could have caused the river Nile to dry up, turning the fast flowing river that was
's lifeline into a slow moving and muddy watercourse. Egypt
These conditions would have been perfect for the arrival of the first plague, which in the Bible is described as the
Nile turning to blood.
Dr Stephan Pflugmacher, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute for Water Ecology and Inland Fisheries in Berlin, believes this description could have been the result of a toxic fresh water algae.
He said the bacterium, known as
Burgundy Blood algae or Oscillatoria rubescens, is known to have existed 3,000 years ago and still causes similar effects today.
He said: "It multiplies massively in slow-moving warm waters with high levels of nutrition. And as it dies, it stains the water red."
The scientists also claim the arrival of this algae set in motion the events that led to the second, third and forth plagues – frogs, lice and flies.
Frogs development from tadpoles into fully formed adults is governed by hormones that can speed up their development in times of stress.
The arrival of the toxic algae would have triggered such a transformation and forced the frogs to leave the water where they lived.
But as the frogs died, it would have meant that mosquitoes, flies and other insects would have flourished without the predators to keep their numbers under control.
This, according to the scientists, could have led in turn to the fifth and sixth plagues – diseased livestock and boils
Professor Werner Kloas, a biologist at the Leibniz Institute, said: "We know insects often carry diseases like malaria, so the next step in the chain reaction is the outbreak of epidemics, causing the human population to fall ill."
Another major natural disaster more than 400 miles away is now also thought to be responsible for triggering the seventh, eighth and ninth plagues that bring hail, locusts and darkness to
One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history occurred when Thera, a volcano that was part of the Mediterranean islands of Santorini, just north of Crete, exploded around 3,500 year ago, spewing billions of tons of volcanic ash into the atmosphere.
Nadine von Blohm, from the Institute for Atmospheric Physics in Germany, has been conducting experiments on how hailstorms form and believes that the volcanic ash could have clashed with thunderstorms above
to produce dramatic hail storms. Egypt
Dr Siro Trevisanato, a Canadian biologist who has written a book about the plagues, said the locusts could also be explained by the volcanic fall out from the ash.
He said: "The ash fall out caused weather anomalies, which translate into higher precipitations, higher humidity. And that's exactly what fosters the presence of the locusts."
The volcanic ash could also have blocked out the sunlight causing the stories of a plague of darkness.
Scientists have found pumice, stone made from cooled volcanic lava, during excavations of Egyptian ruins despite there not being any volcanoes in
Analysis of the rock shows that it came from the Santorini volcano, providing physical evidence that the ash fallout from the eruption at Santorini reached Egyptian shores.
The cause of the final plague, the death of the first born of Egypt, has been suggested as being caused by a fungus that may have poisoned the grain supplies, of which male first born would have had first pickings and so been first to fall victim.
But Dr Robert Miller, associate professor of the Old Testament, from the
Catholic University of , said: "I'm reluctant to come up with natural causes for all of the plagues. America
The problem with the naturalistic explanations is that they lose the whole point.
"And the whole point was that you didn't come out of
by natural causes, you came out by the hand of God." Egypt