We have Alaska to thank for Western civilisation. Huh? It’s ...

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We have Alaska to thank for Western civilisation. Huh? It’s true, say boffs

If it weren’t for an explosive event on the other side of the world, there would have been no Roman Empire

Nick Squires

The rise of the Roman Empire was due, in part, to a gigantic volcanic eruption 9,600km away in Alaska, an international team of scientists says.

The eruption of the Okmok volcano in the Aleutian Islands more than 2,000 years ago caused a severe cold spell in Europe that led to crop failures, food shortages and political and social unrest, they argue.

That hastened the demise of the Roman Republic and the emergence of the Roman Empire, according to the researchers from the US and Britain. By analysing traces of volcanic ash in ice-core samples from the Arctic, they found that Okmok erupted in 43BC, a year after the assassination of Julius Caesar...

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