Historical Pandemics and Natural Disasters

Historical Pandemics

As we all know and have experienced, in some way or other, this year has been very different than most. So before I dive into the Christmas I wanted to look back at a couple examples from the past that affected people in similar ways.

First, lets look at a pandemic from the past. Well, technically a plague. During the relatively short reign of Titus from June 79 – September 81 AD, he had to work through many things. A plague, a fire and a volcano eruption (Vesuvius) all close together.

Plague happened, not frequently, but periodically in Rome as it had been built in a swampy area and the drainage wasn’t well developed yet. A fire burned in Rome for three days and nights and during the fire a plague broke out. The fire burned large parts of the city. Probably because the two events happened simultaneously and because they were unable to figure out what the disease was, the number of deaths caused was never found. Titus delegated people to work with those who survived the various disasters and also donated from his own home. However, his reign was obviously short and so was his time.


Natural Disasters

Turning our attention to natural disasters, we will look at volcanic eruptions. There are many famous ones such as Mount Vesuvius whose aftermath is still studied today at Herculaneum and Pompeii. However, today we will look briefly at Krakatoa, a volcano in Indonesia

Krakatoa’s most recent eruption was this year, in 2020, but the historically significant eruption was in August 1883. At least 36,000 people died because of this eruption, whether from the blast itself, heat or from the tsunamis that followed. The effects of the eruption were felt all over the world as the “average global temperatures were as much as 1.2 degrees cooler for the next five years.” (Krakatoa Volcano article)

I hope these small examples can show some of the various ways through history that people have been affected by natural disasters, pandemics and other historical events.