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Roman Science Timeline

Roman Science Timeline

  • 321 BCE

    The Via Appia, a famous Roman road, is constructed.

  • 312 BCE

    Rome's first aqueduct constructed, the 16 km long Aqua Appia.

  • 219 BCE

    The physician Archagathus of Sparta arrives in Rome.

  • c. 159 BCE

    First water-clock set up in Rome.

  • c. 25 BCE - c. 50 CE

    Life of the Roman physician Aulus Cornelius Celsus.

  • c. 20 BCE

    The Campus Martius baths in Rome are constructed and donated to the people by Agrippa.

  • c. 20 BCE

    Military engineer and architect Vitruvius publishes his "De Architectura".

  • 41 CE

    Roman emperor Claudius builds a 6 km tunnel to drain the Fucine Lake.

  • c. 50 CE

    The largest Roman aqueduct, 49 m high, completed at Pont du Gard.

  • c. 65 CE

    The Circus Maximus in Rome is rebuilt and its capacity increased to 250,000.

  • 81 CE - 96 CE

    Construction is finally completed on the Colosseum of Rome in the reign of Domitian.

  • 122 CE

    Construction begins on Hadrian's Wall.

  • c. 125 CE

    The Pantheon is completed in Rome.

  • 129 CE - c. 216 CE

    Life of the physician Galen of Pergamon.

  • c. 235 CE

    The Baths of Caracalla in Rome are completed.

Science and the Catholic Church: A Turbulent History

Science and the Catholic Church share a long and sometimes tumultuous history. As the church leaders gather for the start of conclave Tuesday (Mar. 12), their choice of a new holy leader will affect Catholic views on science in the coming decades, say scientists.

The Catholic Church has come a long way from its inauspicious treatment of Galileo Galilei in the 17th century. It now recognizes a theistic form of both cosmic and biological evolution. But the church remains steadfastly opposed to contraception, abortion and research using human embryonic stem cells.

"The natural sciences are in a steady search for truth, and so is theology," retired molecular geneticist and Nobel laureate Werner Arber told LiveScience. Arber is president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a scientific group associated with the church that was founded in 1603 and re-founded by the Vatican in 1936.

On Feb. 28, Pope Benedict XVI resigned from office, the first time a pope has stepped down in six centuries. His successor will set the tone for the church's views on science, as in other matters. [Papal Primer: History's 10 Most Intriguing Popes]

"I do hope that this new pope [will recognize] things like equality between men and women. This would absolutely be justified from a science point of view," said Arber.

Here's a look at the Vatican's views on science over the years:

Church and science

The Catholic Church has been called by some the largest single and longest-term patron of science in history. Indeed, the church funds many of the world's hospitals and medical facilities. Yet science and the church have a somewhat checkered history.

In the early 1600s, a certain Italian astronomer came into conflict with the Catholic Church over his support of the Copernican view that the Earth revolves around the sun. Galileo, himself a Catholic, was tried for heresy in 1633 by the Roman Inquisition, which forced him to recant his views and live out his days under house arrest. It wasn't until 2000 that former pope John Paul II issued a formal apology for the church's treatment of Galileo.

The church's views on evolution have themselves evolved over the years. For the first hundred years or so after Charles Darwin first put forth his theory, the church took no formal stance on evolution, though some church figures rejected it. As late as the 1950s, the church maintained a neutral position on the subject, but by the end of the 20th century the Catholic Church showed general acceptance of 'theistic evolution,' which states that God created a universe where cosmic and biological evolution occurred.

"The theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge," former pope John Paul II said in a speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican in October 1996. [The Top 10 Intelligent Designs (or Creation Myths)]

When it comes to reproductive issues like contraception and abortion, the Vatican has taken a consistently conservative stance. In 1968, Pope Paul VI formally rejected the use of contraception, including sterilization, in his encyclical "Humanae Vitae" (On Human Life). "An act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design," the pope wrote.

To combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS, the church advocates monogamy and abstinence before marriage over the use of condoms. The church has been a world leader in providing care for victims of HIV/AIDS, but Pope Benedict XVI drew fire from health experts in 2009 when, while on a trip to Africa, he stated that condoms would worsen the AIDS epidemic.

"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope said of the AIDS crisis. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."

In recent years, the church has taken issue with research using human stem cells, which have the ability to develop into different tissue types, making them promising for disease therapies. The church has mainly confined its opposition to the use of embryonic stem cells because of the Catholic view that life begins at conception.

''Scientific research must be encouraged and promoted, so long as it does not harm other human beings, whose dignity is inviolable from the very first stages of existence,'' Pope Benedict XVI said in June 2007, the New York Times reported.

"The main question should be what benefit can come out of stem cell research," Utkan Demirci, a stem cell researcher at Harvard University Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, told LiveScience. "The potential benefit of stem cell research is huge."

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences held a workshop on stem cell research in 2012. The event focused on the potential of induced pluripotent stem cells, which have the ability to develop into different cell types, but don't have to come from embryos.

The workshop is a good example of how the Vatican is willing to listen to scientists, said Arber (president of the academy).

1. Roads and Highways

Ancient Roman inventions like roads and highways are very much a part and parcel of modern day living. Just imagine what would happen if Romans hadn’t come up with the idea of laying navigational roads that facilitated travel ? Well, we cannot help but thank this great civilization to have invented this concept! The Romans were able to dominate a major chunk of European and Mediterranean lands mostly due to their exceptional road system that helped in effective connectivity. The roads and highways built during their reign boosted trade relations with the rest of the world and also enabled movement of soldiers for expansion of the Roman Empire to the far away lands. People traveled fast due to the straight cut design of roads.

In past eras, astrology was more deterministic. People hunted, planted and migrated with the stars. Living in rhythm with nature’s cycles helped civilizations survive .

For many centuries, astrology and astronomy were one and the same. Because human beings were at the mercy of nature, they viewed the heavens with fear, awe and even superstition. Weather was the work of nature’s gods. After all, a flood could wipe out the food supply just as easily as the right amount of rainfall could guarantee a bountiful harvest. By tracking the stars, they were able to plan and predict certain patterns.

Modern astrology, like humanity, has evolved. Over the centuries, we’ve developed expanded consciousness. Mathematical, scientific and technological advances have given us more control over our lives in the physical universe. As a result, astrology has become more of a tool for living. We no longer take a fear-based approach to it (well, we shouldn’t, anyway!). Astrology’s best use is as a method for planning, gaining more self-awareness and understanding relationships.

We love what astrologer Kevin Burk says in Astrology: Understanding the Birth Chart:

“Astrology is the study of cycles. By observing the cyclical movements of the planets, we are able to gain a greater understanding of the cycles and patterns in our own lives. Astrology can be a powerful tool for healing and transformation, and it can be a key that can unlock a greater spiritual connection to the universe. Although astrology is not fortune-telling, when skillfully applied, astrology can be an extremely effective predictive tool. On a personal level, astrology…can give us insight into our personal issues, our patterns, our fears, and our dreams…Astrology is a tool that can help us understand and unlock our highest potentials, and that can teach us how to live in harmony with the universe.”

Here’s a rough timeline of this ancient practice, which has existed for nearly as long as humanity.

30,000-10,000 B.C.

The roots of astrology begin with earliest civilization. Maps of the stars existed long before maps of the earth. Archaeologists have found cave paintings, mammoth tusks, and bones marked with lunar phases. Man has long coped with uncertainty and the change brought on by nature’s cycles by tracking the stars—the seven visible planets were our first GPS.

6,000 B.C.

The Sumerians in Mesopotamia note the movements of the planets and stars.

2,400-331 B.C.

The Babylonians (also known as the Chaldeans) continue what the Sumerians started, inventing the first astrological system over thousands of years. They created the zodiac wheel that we use today (with planets and houses) around 700 B.C. The oldest known horoscope chart is believed to date to 409 B.C.

331 B.C.-5th Century A.D.

Alexander the Great conquers Babylon/Chaldea and the Greeks eventually start making advances in astrology, along with developments in medicine, geometry, mathematics, and philosophy. The modern names for planets and zodiac signs come from Greek literature. In 140 A.D., Ptolemy publishes Tetrabiblos, one of the most revered astrology works ever written. Tetrabiblos contains core techniques of astrology used to this day, including planets, zodiac signs, houses, and aspects (or angles).

5th Century A.D.

The Roman Empire falls. Western astrology disappears for 500 years and the Arabs continue studying and developing Greek astrology.

Middle Ages

Astrology flourishes and is an intrinsic part of culture, practiced by doctors, astronomers, and mathematicians. Advances in mathematics help astrologers develop more accurate and sophisticated charts than ever. Many esteemed European universities at this time, including Cambridge (1225-50), had astrology chairs, and royals had court astrologers. Many popes were pro-astrology. The monk and mathematics professor Placidus (1603-68) created the house division system used by astrologers today. When Copernicus advanced the theory that the Earth travels around the Sun, he dedicated his main work to the astrologer Pope Paul III. Belief in astrology began to decline as the church gained power, and it was seen as heresy and superstition during the Inquisition. Galileo himself was found guilty of heresy and had to renounce his astrological beliefs to save his life!

17th-18th Century: “The Age of Reason”

The Protestant reform movement, started in the mid-1500s, abetted astrology’s decline. Later, rationalism become the popular consensus during the Age of Enlightenment (1650-1780) in Western European cafes and salons, emphasizing reason, analysis, and individualism—a reaction to excessive superstition, authority, and control from institutions such as the Catholic church. Skepticism and science were seen as a way to reform society, and to bring back temperance and balance. Astrology was viewed as mere entertainment and not a valid science, and most astrologers worked under pseudonyms.

19th Century

Renewed interest in spirituality and mysticism in England invigorate astrology again in Europe. Psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) pioneers the use of astrology in analysis, and other developments in the field are made.

20th-21st Century

In 1920s, newspapers and magazines begin publishing the Sun-sign-based horoscopes that we still read today. Since they give only 12 predictions for the entire world’s population, they are seen more as entertainment. Later in the century, computers make it fast and easy to cast charts, replacing the need to do laborious charts by hand (though some stricter astrologers still prefer to do them that way).

Roman Siege Weapons

The Romans also developed a number of war machines that were used on the battlefield. One of these, for instance, was the ballista, which was a giant crossbow-like weapon consisting of two levers with torsion springs, and a slider on which ammunition (either metal darts of spherical stones) was loaded. Although the ballista was a Greek invention, its design and technology was improved by the Romans.

Reproduction of a Roman ballista. (fuguestock/ Deviant Art )

It is recorded that the ballista was used extensively by Julius Caesar during his campaigns in Gaul and in Britain. Another Roman war machine was the onager , which, like the ballista, relied on torsion for power. Unlike the ballista, however, this war machine was mainly used a siege engine to destroy fortifications and other enemy buildings.

The onager was essentially a type of catapult, consisting of a large frame on the ground, a vertical frame on the front, and an arm in the middle. The onager was used to hurl large stones, which could be set alight to cause more damage. This siege engine was famously used by the Romans against the Greek city states, and during the siege of Carthage.

Onager with sling from Ralph Payne-Gallwey's book "The Projectile Throwing Engines of the Ancients" (1907). ( Public Domain )

Top image: Roman weapons were vital to protecting and conquering the ancient world. Source: Fernando Cortés /Adobe Stock

Main Article

Reformation Europe

ca. 1500-1650 Summary of the Reformation
primary powers Spain, France, Austria
growing religious conflict
ca. 1500-1618
Protestant-Catholic conflict grows, between and within nations
Thirty Years' War
ca. 1618-48
the German states (aided by France, Denmark, and Sweden) successfully
battle Austria (aided by Spain) for political/religious autonomy

The Reformation featured constant religion-based conflict (namely Catholic-Protestant conflict) within and between the nations of Western Europe. Religious fervour was, of course, often entangled with political interests.

The most powerful nations of Reformation Europe were Spain (the mightiest), France, and Austria. Alliances of the Reformation generally coincided with religion: Protestant regions on one side (Germany, Netherlands, England, Scandinavia), Catholic regions on the other (Spain, Holy Roman Empire). The chief exception was France, which despite being Catholic was determined to break the power of the Habsburgs.

The Reformation can be divided into two parts: a period of escalating conflict between Protestants and Roman Catholics (ca. 1500-1618) and the Thirty Years' War (ca. 1618-48).

The primary struggles of the "escalating conflict" period were the Italian Wars and the Dutch Revolt, both of which lasted decades. The Italian Wars , fought between Spain and France over Italian territory, ended in Spanish victory. In the Dutch Revolt (aka the Eighty Years' War), the Netherlands won independence from Spanish rule. (The final three decades of the the Dutch Revolt overlap with the Thirty Years' War.)

The region of "the Netherlands" comprises the northern half of the Low Countries. While the Low Countries were largely independent during the Middle Ages, they became a firm Habsburg possession ca. 1500. The Netherlands broke free during the Reformation, while the southern Low Countries (now Belgium) would not achieve independence until the nineteenth century.

The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), fought mainly in Germany, centred on the struggle of the German states against Austria for political and religious autonomy. (While Germany officially belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, the region was actually a patchwork of small, semi-independent states.) Austria was aided by Spain, while the German states were supported chiefly by Denmark, Sweden, and France. Over seven million were killed in the Thirty Years' War, making it the bloodiest conflict in Europe prior to the First World War. K262-263,8

The Thirty Years' War initially erupted in Bohemia (part of Austrian territory), when enraged Protestants (a strong minority group in that region) burst into the king's palace and hurled several officials through a window: an event referred to as the Defenestration of Prague . War subsequently raged in Bohemia (for the first few years of the war), then primarily Germany (for the remainder). Austria was ultimately defeated, with the treaty that ended the war (the Peace of Westphalia ) granting religious and political autonomy to the German states. (In Bohemia, however, the Protestant rebellion was quelled, and Austrian control of the region remained firm.) 8,9

Reformation England

Under the Tudor dynasty (ca. 1500-1600), England bloomed into a major power. The conversion of England to Protestantism was initiated by Henry VIII (the second Tudor), who proclaimed himself head of Catholicism in England (instead of the pope) in response to the pope's refusal to grant him a divorce. Over the Tudor period, England came to abandon Catholicism altogether, with Protestantism being permanently established as the state religion of England by Elizabeth I (the last Tudor). 67

The Tudors were succeeded by the Stuart dynasty. Its first two members were James I and Charles I , both of whom provoked civil unrest via brutal anti-Catholicism, heavy taxation, and contempt for Parliament. Under James' reign, this unrest culminated in the Gunpowder Plot , a Catholic attempt to blow up Parliament. Under Charles' reign, unrest finally erupted into the English Revolution . 68

The period known as the English Revolution (ca. 1640-60) had two phases. The first half of this period was spanned by the English Civil War, which ultimately deposed Charles I. The second half was spanned by the Commonwealth (a dictatorship ruled by Oliver Cromwell), during which civil conflict continued. In 1660, the Stuart monarchy was restored.

The English Civil War was fought between the Royalists (supporters of the king, composed primarily of high-ranking nobles) and the Parliamentarians (supporters of Parliament, composed primarily of lesser nobles and the middle class). The war ended in Parliamentarian victory and Charles' execution. 70

Parliament was the representative assembly of England. (A representative assembly is a body of representatives from across a country, who gather to participate in the governance of that country.) While representative assemblies emerged in various Western European states during the Middle Ages, most remained mere advisory bodies only Parliament achieved real political power, such that it could significantly limit the actions of the monarch (see History of Democracy).

While Parliament was initially dominated by the nobility, throughout the Reformation it increasingly became the political voice of the middle class. 70 Members of Parliament were elected, albeit only by a fraction of the population (due to property requirements for suffrage). Nonetheless, this was the starting-point of modern democracy, and Parliament is the ancestor of all modern democratic governments.

For most of Europe, the Enlightenment was the age of absolutism, during which monarchs achieved an unprecedented degree of absolute rule over their nations. Thanks to Parliament, England was the chief exception to this rule. The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 came with strong conditions, namely that monarchs would recognize the legal authority Parliament had obtained up to that point, as well as some additional power. Thus does the English Revolution mark the decisive, permanent end of absolutism in England. (This was reaffirmed a few decades later by the brief Glorious Revolution, in which another Stuart king with absolutist ambitions was deposed by Parliamentary forces.) A296-97,79

England thus became the first major power to feature representative government (i.e. government in which significant political power is held by a representative assembly). This did not go unnoticed: from the English Revolution onward, demand for representative government was constant throughout the Western world. 78 Representative government (and British culture generally) also spread via exportation from Britain to its colonies, including the United States (which, some two centuries after the English Revolution, would become the world's first true democracy).

Enlightenment Europe

ca. 1650-1800 Summary of the Enlightenment
Early Enlightenment
ca. 1648-1715
France, under Louis XIV, flourishes as the mightiest European nation
the Early Enlightenment concludes with the War of the Spanish Succession
Late Enlightenment
ca. 1715-1800
a five-way balance of power prevails in Europe
Britain wins the Seven Years' War, thereby becoming the global colonial superpower
the Enlightenment concludes with the French Revolution

During the period from the Enlightenment to World War I (ca. 1650-WWI), the primary powers of Europe were France, England, Austria, Prussia (later Germany), and Russia. During the Early Enlightenment (ca. 1648-1715), France waxed as the most powerful nation of the five (under Louis XIV). During the Late Enlightenment (ca. 1715-1800), the five nations were more evenly matched, comprising a five-way "balance of power". 2

Note that the Ottoman Empire was also a major force in European politics for the whole of its existence (ca. 1300-WWI).

The reign of the French king Louis XIV (aka the "Sun King") spanned the entire Early Enlightenment. Louis' reign was characterized by extensive patronage of the arts, ruthless persecution of the Huguenots (which virtually ended Protestantism in France), and constant wars of attempted expansion. 51 These attempts compelled other European powers to unite into an anti-French coalition, whose membership fluctuated throughout the decades (but was consistently led by England and Austria).

The foremost conflict of the Early Enlightenment was the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14), which spanned the final years of Louis XIV's reign. This conflict resulted from the extinction of the Habsburg dynasty in Spain, which caused Louis' grandson Philip to inherit the Spanish throne left unchecked, this would eventually have led to the union of France and Spain under a single monarch. The anti-French coalition averted this danger by attacking and defeating both nations in the resulting peace settlement, France and Spain were forbidden from ever uniting, and both were stripped of significant territories. 52,53

The foremost conflict of the Late Enlightenment (along with the American and French Revolutions) was the Seven Years' War (1756-63), which involved most of Europe. Fighting took place both in Europe itself and throughout the world, between the European empires. Indeed, the Seven Years' War is often cited as the first global conflict.

At the core of this conflict was the British-French struggle for world supremacy. The Enlightenment period witnessed a string of wars between these nations over control of India, North America, and the Caribbean. More often than not, Britain claimed victory in these wars, such that French territory was slowly eroded.

Victory in the Seven Years' War allowed the British Empire to absorb New France (French territory in North America) and ejected the French from India. The Seven Years' War thus marks the rise of the British Empire as the supreme global colonial power. By imposing new taxes on colonies (due to massive war debts), however, Britain spurred the American Revolution , which France was only too eager to support. 73

Russia and Prussia

The history of Russia began ca. 1500, when Ivan the Great founded the nation by freeing his East Slavic land (known as Muscovy) from Turkic domination. Russian territory expanded steadily throughout the Early Modern period, especially eastward. Ivan the Great was succeeded by Ivan the Terrible , the first Russian ruler to be titled tsar . Soon after, the Romanov dynasty came to power, remaining there until the position of tsar was terminated during WWI. 41,42

The foremost monarch of Enlightenment Russia was Peter the Great , who effected an ambitious program of "Westernization" to bring Russian government, military, and technology up to Western standards. He established Russian naval power by founding St Petersburg on the Baltic coast, which served as the nation's capital until World War I. 42

The Enlightenment also witnessed the emergence of the nation of Prussia. "Prussia" was originally a state centred on modern-day northeast Poland, established by the Teutonic Knights during the later Middle Ages. Poland conquered the region soon afterward, but allowed the Knights to keep part of it as a duchy. During the Reformation, this duchy was inherited by the prince of Brandenburg (one of the small German states under the Holy Roman Empire) during the Enlightenment, Prussia broke free as an independent kingdom and expanded rapidly, joining up with Brandenburg to form a single great power.

French Revolution

The Enlightenment concluded with the French Revolution (1789-99), effected by the French peasantry and middle class in response to heavy regressive taxation. 2 Taxes on food, for instance, were so high as to bring about famine among the lower classes. Escalating civil unrest forced Louis XVI to summon the Estates-General in a desperate bid to implement satisfactory political reforms, including an acceptable system of taxation (which was needed to manage the towering national debt). 58

The Estates-General was, like England's Parliament, a representative assembly established during the Middle Ages. Unlike Parliament, the Estates-General had never attained significant political power, and so had remained chiefly advisory.

The Estates-General consisted of representatives from three groups: nobility, clergy, and commoners (known as the three "estates"). Though discussions ensued, the commoners lost patience and demanded control of the nation, dubbing themselves the National Assembly . Before long, the king reluctantly acknowledged the National Assembly as the new government of France. 58

The new regime would not be established peacefully, however: in 1789, fears of a noble plot to restore the monarchy drove the commoners to storm the Bastille (a prison fortress) for weapons. This act is considered the beginning of the French Revolution. 58

The Revolution featured a series of failed attempts at establishing democratic government. Meanwhile, violence raged both within France (against counter-revolutionaries and between rival revolutionary factions) and against other European nations in the French Revolutionary Wars , through which France expanded eastward. Thousands of perceived enemies of the Revolution were beheaded, including Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette. 58

The Revolution ended when Napoleon, a celebrated military officer of the French Revolutionary Wars, seized control of the nation in 1799. Though not declared "emperor" for some years, his rule was dictatorial from the start. War with Europe continued the French Revolutionary Wars simply became the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). 58,74

While the French Revolution did not succeed in founding democratic government, it did initiate the downfall of absolutism in France. The Revolution also bolstered a range of freedoms in French society, including freedom of speech and religion. The ideals and reforms of the French Revolution proved widely influential, especially across Continental Europe. A327

How Time Works

In the modern calendar, we label all years with B.C. (before Christ) or A.D. (anno domini, or "in the year of our lord"). There is no "zero" year -- in this system, the year Christ was born is 1 A.D., and the year preceding it is 1 B.C.

This practice was first suggested in the sixth century A.D., and was adopted by the pope of that time. It took quite a while for it to become a worldwide standard, however. Russia and Turkey, for example, did not convert to the modern calendar and year scheme until the 20th century.

One interesting side note: Because of a variety of changes and adjustments made to the calendar during the middle ages, it turns out that Jesus was most likely born in what we now think of as 6 B.C., and likely lived until 30 A.D.

Besides B.C. and A.D., some people use B.C.E. (for "before common era") and C.E. (for "common era").

For more information on time and related topics, check out the links below.

The Late Middle Ages - Scholasticism and the Scientific Method

Robert Grosseteste - 13th Century Image (Public Domain)

The Late Middle Ages, from 1300 until 1500, saw progress speed up, as thinkers continued the work of scholasticism, adding to the philosophy underpinning science, Late Middle Age made sophisticated observations and theories that were sadly superseded by the work of later scientists.William of Ockham, in the 14th century, proposed his idea of parsimony and the famous Ockam's Razor, still used by scientists to find answers from amongst conflicting explanations. Jean Buridan challenged Aristotelian physics and developed the idea of impetus, a concept that predated Newtonian physics and inertia.

Thomas Bradwardine investigated physics, and his sophisticated study of kinematics and velocity predated Galileo's work on falling objects. Oresme proposed a compelling theory about a heliocentric, rather than geocentric, universe, two centuries before Copernicus, and he proposed that light and color were related, long before Hooke.

Finally, many of the scholastic philosophers sought to remove divine intervention from the process of explaining natural phenomena, believing that scholars should look for a simpler, natural cause, rather than stating that it must be the work of divine providence.

Climate and the Fall of the Roman Empire

Even in our modern age, humans are incredibly vulnerable to changes in weather and climate. And earlier in human history, we were even more so. Even the Romans, who managed to build monuments, roads and aqueducts that still stand today, weren't immune, according to a new study published last week by Science.

Scientists in Germany and Switzerland created a 2,500-year-long record of Central European summer precipitation and temperature variability from nearly 9,000 samples of larch, pine and oak tree rings. They found that the region experienced above average precipitation and little temperature fluctuation up until about A.D. 250, with a couple of colder periods around 350 B.C.—when the Celtic peoples began to expand across the continent—and 50 B.C., which was when the Romans were conquering Britain.

But around A.D. 250 began a 300-year period of extreme climate variability, when there were wild shifts in precipitation and temperature from one decade to the next. The Romans didn't fare so well. The Roman Empire nearly fell during the Crisis of the Third Century and split into two in 285. In 387, the Gauls sacked Rome, followed by the Visigoths in 410 and the Vandals in 455. By 500, the western Roman Empire was gone.

"Relatively modest changes in European climate in the past have had profound implications for society," Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann told New Scientist.

Human history shows that we don't deal well with times of climate upheaval. If things are good or bad, we can adapt if given enough time. But a small change in climate can have deadly consequences. The study also found that the period around 1300 saw wetter summers and colder temperatures it was about that time that Europe experienced a famine and plague of such immense size that nearly half the population died.

"The provocative outcome," of the study, University of Arkansas geoscientist David Stahle told ScienceNOW, "is that harsh climate conditions happen to be associated with upheavals in society, like the Black Death."

AP European History Timeline

The Hundred Year's War was a war between England and France over feudal disputes that lasted 116 years, with fighting divided over the course of that time.

The Black Death

A plague from rats imported from ships from Asia that caused the death of 1/3 of Europe

Itialian Renaissance

Period of relative peace and intellect throughout Italy that lead to a great deal of art and culture, ending with the sacking of Rome

Northerern Renaissance

Until 1450, the Italian Renaissance had little effect on Northern Europe. However, ideas began to spread, leading to a Renaissance period in northern Europe and ending after the Thirty Years' War

Commercial Revolution

Period of European colonization and mercantilism which lasted from 1488 with the first European sailing around the Cape of Good Hope and ended around the time of the American Revolution in 1776


The Protestant Reformation began with Luther's posting of his 95 thesis and lasted until 1648, after the Thirty Years' War

Scientific Revolution

Period of Scientific Growth where many 'natural philosophers' studied and learned a great deal about astronomy, biology, and other fields of science.

Agricultural Revolution

Period where efficiency of agriculture allowed for better quality of life and eventually lead to the Industrial Revolution


A period of enlightened growth and education leading into more modern society, many philosopher's debated what an ideal society was and what rights should exist.

Industrial Revolution

A period in Europe of economic and technological expansion, resulting from increase life expectancy and health caused by the Agricultural revolution. Inventions such as the Spinning Jenny, the Water Frame, and the Steam Engine helped progress this period.

French Revolution

Period of French Revolt which lead to the Rise of Napolean Bonaparte and utilized many Enlightenment ideas to attempt to formulate a new government,

Watch the video: Ελληνική ιστορία - Ελληνιστική περίοδος 323-31. (January 2022).