Let’s gather up a bunch of (seemingly) random scientific discoveries to see what we can make of them:
- Paleoclimatologists have discovered physical evidence of a shift in climate in Egypt that took place during the reign of Pharoh Ramses II.
- One of the biggest volcanic eruptions in human history took place around 3,500 years ago when Thera on Santorini exploded.
- The city of Pi-Rameses, which was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Rameses II, seems to have been abandoned around 3,000 years ago.
Three bits of information for which there is valid, verifiable, physical evidence. Compare these against the story of the Biblical plagues of Egypt.
According to Exodus, there were plagues of blood, frogs, lice, flies, livestock death, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and the death of the firstborn. In that order. All in all, it doesn’t sound like much of a good time.
When the climate changed all those millenia ago, there would have been consequences for the Nile:
The rising temperatures could have caused the river Nile to dry up, turning the fast flowing river that was Egypt’s lifeline into a slow moving and muddy watercourse.
Slow-moving, warm water is the ideal environment for Oscillatoria rubescens, also known as Burgundy Blood algae. When this algae dies, it stains the water red and could have easily given rise to the story of the first plague wherein the waters of the Nile turned to blood.
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.
Right, so that accounts for plagues two through four. With a rising insect population and unhealthy water, is it any mystery about dying livestock and boils? Insects are well-known carriers of all manners of disease and a polluted water source would have only compounded the problem. That solves plagues five and six.
So far, all the plagues have been a logical, biological, progressive cahin of events springing from a documented climate change. What about the rest of them? That’s where the volcanic eruption of Thera comes in.
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 Egypt to produce dramatic hail storms.
The documented eruption of a volcano thus accounts for the plague of hail. Now we might seem to be stymied. The next plague — that of locusts — surely can’t be tied to a volcano. Or can it?
Apparently, it can. The ash in the atmosphere would have contributed to more climatic changes, exactly the sort that create the conditions needed for locusts. Additionally, the ash clouds could have contributed to the plague of darkness.
All that’s left is the plague of the death of the first borns. Which, to me, doesn’t sound like a plague. If it is, it’s a heck of a specific one. Nonetheless, if we assume this “plague” also occured, we can hypothesize that what with the bad water and crazy weather, a blight or fungus or something could have affected the crops.
Culturally speaking, it would have been the male first born that would have first shot at the produce and, thus, been the first to fall afoul of the nasty whatever it was.
If, as some scholars believe, the plagues we centered around Pi-Rameses, we can certainly understand why the city was abandoned. It wasn’t like the place was a barrel of laughs 3,000 years ago.
(All quotes and most details from this article in the Telegraph)