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Weather History and Climate (100 B.C. to 50 B.C.)

150 B.C. to 100 B.C. | 100 B.C. to 50 B.C. | 50 B.C. to 0 A.D.

CLIMATE (100-50 B.C.):

This period began with a 15-year cold-dry period in which the l00-year cycle ended. The transition to the warm-wet phase was a very pronounced one, ending in a strong warm-wet maximum that was interrupted in the middle by a few years of drought. After the drought there was another strong revival in rainfall and a rise in temperature. It seems quite reasonable to assume from the evidence that this warm-wet phase, as a whole, was the strongest in 200 years, or since the time of Ptolemaic Egypt around 280 B.C.

According to Brooks, a British climatologist, the first century B.C. was definitely a very wet one. After 80 B.C. the California sequoias grew the fastest in 200 years, indicating a strong warm-wet period. Huntington believes that Owen's Lake in California was very high at this time. It is quite evident that a prosperous civilization sprang up in Central America. Prosperity returned not only to the stronger civilizations of the world, but to the minor ones as well. For example, the Suevi (Swiss) in Germany developed a kingdom under Ariovistas about 75 B.C., which forced the Gauls to form a union against him. It has been said before that imperial vigor can hardly develop in the absence of economic prosperity, a nd wherever the facts are known this is always what has happened. Economic prosperity can hardly occur unless rainfall and temperature combined to produce a series of good growing seasons. Reports from Britain dated 72 B.C. indicate storminess in that area.

The dry years from 65 to 60 B.C. stirred up several migrations over wide areas of the earth. A tribe in western Turkistan called the Yueh-chi moved south into Bactria; Scythians moved into India, settling in the Punjab and the provinces of Katharwar and Gujerat. At the same time Persia was overrun by Turanians.

According to Briton, 70 to 60 B.C. was severely dry in England and Ireland. This agrees with the story told by the California trees at 65 B.C. During this dry period the Gauls were so troublesome that finally Caesar determined to conquer them. In 56 B.C., according to Caesar, there was a bad storm in Britain. This is close to the strong tree maximum of 58 B.C., and probably belonged to a world-wide sequence of rainy years.

The drought ran its course, rainfall recovered and was apparently good from about 63 to 56 B.C. Between 55 and 50 more droughts occurred. The evidence for these droughts comes from four different continental areas; California, Europe, Central Asia, and India. This is the position for hot droughts in the 100-year pattern.

According to Parker, between 55 and 50 B.C. there were several droughts in Central Asia. While Caesar reported bad storms in England in 56 and 55, by 54 a widespread general drought had developed over western Europe and Britain, so severe that his army, in winter quarters, had to be separated into small scattered units in order to secure sufficient food. Since there were no reports of excessive cold (and the chances are that there would have been, had it been cold) we may assume that the winter temperatures were mild, and that the droughts were part of a warm-dry climatic phase.

Still further evidence is found in another widespread outburst of migrations. The Iapodes moved into Dalmatia in 52 B.C. At 50 B.C. the Huns were travelling again; this time moving westward from Mongolia in large numbers. According to Huntington, the date 50 B.C. centered in a severe drought and famine period in China. These famines were especially tragic in 48 B.C. in the four provinces of Shansi, Honan, Shantung, and Chihli. Ponds, lakes, reservoirs and gardens, owned by the rich were lent to the poor. Then, when it did begin to rain it came in such floods that grain and money had to be imported from other regions to save the people in Kwan Sung province.

After events like these one can look for a sharp drop in world temperatures. The California trees point now to just such a drop but not to a major cold phase of the l00-year cycle. They point to a sharp break only in the warm phase, because the tree minimum was not a long time, and it was located between two maxima as close together as 58 and 23 B.C.

(Recall that when the different lines of evidence were being discussed earlier 1n the volume, it was pointed out that the distribution of international versus civil war battles could have been used to locate the warm and cold periods of history. The positions of all the known dated battles in history that we have so far been able to locate in the literature have been plotted against the world climate curve and will be published in a forthcoming volume.) Since the behavior of primitive tribes is being followed In relation to climatic fluctuations, especially their migrations, if. can be mentioned in passing that during the 40's and 30's B.C. the Romans were constantly having trouble with Celtic Gaul. The Bellovici revolted in 46, the Allabroges in 44, and the Aquiani and Morini in 33 and 30 B.C. These revolts were attended by migrations. There is no record of consequential revolts attending the earlier migrations of the 60's and 50's. Some historians believe that the great migrations of history were for the most part caused by internal strife. At best, internal strife could cause but a certain fraction of such migrations and even then could hardly have been more than a contributing cause, not the main cause. In the absence of any evidence of civil war, the migrations of the 60's and 50's could hardly have been caused by factors rather than dwindling grass and water supplies and a succession of crop failures.

The suspicion that the cold period that followed after 50 B.C. was worldwide receives substantiation from Russian Turkistan where, in 36 B.C., it was so cold that hordes of people perished. Isolated reports like these are almost never out of place in the l00-year cycle apparently for the reason that they so seldom occur out of place. Ordinarily we have not gone into the evidence regarding the weather trends and we do so now only because this was one of the very important periods in history.

HISTORY (100-50 B.C.):

This period was one of the most crucial in the long history of the Roman Empire. Great social and political changes were under way. The warm period from 80 to 10 B.C., with its long cold interruption from 50 to 30, marked the apex of Roman history. While it did not mark the period of her greatest physical expansion, it was the period of her greatest vitality, leadership, and cultural achievement. It was also the turning point in Roman history. After the Augustan Age, Rome declined steadily throughout the remainder of her history as an Empire.

While Rome was building up to the climax of her history during the current nation building era, Tartars and other Asiatic peoples were shaping up strong empires on the order of the Khans of the Middle Ages.

Ever since the days of the Gracchi around ]25 B.C., Rom; had been divided into two hostile camps, the aristocratic and the democratic parties (which from time to time divided within themselves). In the Gracchinn struggles, the reactionaries had been victorious. During the interval 100-50 B.C., however, there came to the front a young general and champion of the people, Marius. At the same time another famous general, Sulla, was the leader of the aristocratic party. Both generals had large followings. During the first twenty years of the century, Rome along with the rest of tile known world, was torn in civil war. Some of the, Italian cities seceded, until citizenship was granted to them. Between 118 and 82, Marius and Sulla fought it out and Marius was defeated. In 82 B.C., Sulla returning from the East, helped cruel vengeance upon the followers of Marius when he reached Italy. Then Sulla declared himself a dictator and instituted a reign of terror (notice that it was turning warm).

Then came Pompey and Caesar. Pompey stood for the aristocracy, and Caesar stood for the democratic party. When Pontus became too powerful in the East, Pompey was sent against them with absolute power over the eastern legions. Pontus, Syria, Cappadocia and other regions were converted into Roman provinces. Caesar was becoming eminent in the West. The situation was loaded with dynamite. At first a reciprocal agreement was made between Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus (the First Triumvirate). Crassus was killed in battle, which left Caesar and Pompey. For a time, friendly relations existed between them. It was upon Caesar's return from his conquest of Gaul and Britain that he decided on precipitating civil war by his crossing of the Ruhicon. Pompey was defeated. Caesar then conquered Egypt, and there met Cleopatra.

The majority of Rome’s most brilliant scholars (of which there were not many) other than the poets who came a little later, flourished from 100 to 50 B.C. Early in the century there were: Varro, agriculturalist, author of several ency· clopedic works and a student of rhetoric; Rosidonius, Stoic philosopher (recall that Stoicism is cold); Cassius Dionysius, botanist and author of a materia medica; and King Mithridates of Pontus who was a reknowned student of poisons. Specialties in limited fields like these, are, as we have seen all along, typical of cold periods.

Note how the pattern of scholarship changed as it turned warm. There was now Asclepiades, a famous Greek physician, who was author of a new approach to medicine called functionalism (an emphasis on forces and processes as opposed to anatomy and structure), emphasis on functionalism is a warm phase trend. Asclepiades opposed that he thought was in his predesessors an overemphasis upon anatomy. Themison was another physician of the time, founder of "Methodism," which was not a religion, but as, the term implied, an emphasis on method. This was another approach to functionalism. There was the philosopher Andronicus of Rhodes, who followed Aristotle's organic theories of life as opposed to the mechanistic and materialistic theories of the Hedonists and Stoics of the preceding cold period. Cicero, the orator, was also a great scholar and believed in the organismic as opposed to the mechanistic conception of life. And finally, there was the greatest scholar of them all, the philosophical poet Lucretius, who wrote a long poem, "De Herum Natura" which has been variously interpreted since then as mechanistic and organismic. It is in reality a mixture of the two patterns, but Lucretius possessed the sweeping understandings typical of the warm phase mind, and followed the warm, pattern in the great breadth of his interests and in the sweeping character of his deductions. Among other things, he anticipated a most astonishing manner the modern theory of relativity in its logical aspects. Such insights belong to the warm pattern.

  Information from Weather Science Foundation.