The crisis of the sixth century : Climatic change, natural disasters and the plague

Part of : Mediterranean archaeology & archaeometry : international journal ; Vol.6, No.1, 2006, pages 19-32

Section Title:
The Byzantine period (fourth-sixth centuries) is considered an era of peak prosperity inagriculture and trade in the eastern and southern Mediterranean. Paleoclimatic studies havepointed to a significant increase in rainfall from the early fourth century onward, the beginningof a more humid period that lasted some two hundred years. However, the economicprosperity of the Byzantine Empire and its achievements in the fields of urban developmentand trade were halted in the mid-sixth century. In the second half of the sixth century andthrough the seventh century we can discern a sharp decline in both urban and ruralsettlement. The plague known as the "Justinianic plague" broke out in the summer of 541 andspread rapidly via trade ships throughout the Empire. At the same time the period of humidclimate that had begun in the fourth century came to an end. For the Byzantine farmer thecombination of plague and drought was disastrous. This paper focuses on the circumstancesand implications of the severe crisis that affected the Levant during the sixth century.
Subject (LC):
Paleoclimate, Natural disaster, Plague, Trado, En-Gedi, Petra, Mampsis, Muslims