AD 550 to 750 -
A Time for the New World’s Renewal and
Being ‘Gracious to the Creatures’
-- Another Example of an Historical Cycle










Henry David Thoreau


George Santayana


Keywords: History, 6th-8th Centuries AD, A.D., global catastrophes, ancient authors, religion, mythology, Gaia theory, coming Earth changes, new millennium, natural disasters, history, 6th, 7th, and 8th centuries AD, global catastrophes, South America, North America, Central America, Hauri, Nasca, Inca, Moche, Recauy, Adena-Hopewell, Mongollon, Hohokam, Japan, Taoism, Nihongi, Huns, Turks, Tang Dynasty, Kao-li, Po-chi, Korea, Tibet, Khitans, disease, epidemics, Confucianism, Shih King, Arab-Islamic conquests, Mecca, Muhammad, Quran, Koran, Byzantine, Syria, Antes, Near East, Russia, India, Gupta Dynasty, mass migrations, Africa, Teotihuacan solar activity, weather, climate

As with all the web pages on the Living Cosmos web site, this web page is a fully referenced work, and is only a portion of the factual, empirical support for the ideas presented. However, these references are not included on this web page, but are included in the book, In Defense of Nature -- The History Nobody Told You About. Because this book published the full scope and references are not be presented. An attempt will be made to address queries, but not all queries can be answered. The plates and figures that are mentioned in the excerpts are not included, but maybe included at a later time. Excerpts are presented here as indented paragraphs, and those lines appearing with quotes are from some of the cited references.


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AD 550 to 750 - A Time for the New World’s Renewal and Being ‘Gracious to the Creatures’


As presented in this tome, the study of history reveals that there was a very distinct contrast between those civilizations in the Americas, and those of Eurasia. Basically, aside from the Olmec civilization, cultures in the Americas had been far less exploitive of their natural environment than their Eurasian counterparts. Previously, American cultures had only minimally exploited the natural world and mostly through mining (i.e., flint, clay, and rarely, metals). Moreover, they did not build vast urban centers, but instead utilized temporary or semi-permanent dwellings. Agricultural practices were at a minimum, and humans lived mostly by hunting and gathering wild edibles.


The Mayan Collapse

By 600, though, vast empires had emerged in Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America), and in South America’s Peruvian Andes. At this point in time there were cities cropping up on the two continents, and large agricultural regions were being utilized to support them. This more destructive zeal against Nature, that accompanied their cultural change to an urban-agricultural form, would mean their own violent downfall.

The Maya had experienced about 900 years of relative success, with the exception of a few relatively minor episodes involving the destruction of settlements and climate or volcanic incited migrations. As a result, they were flourishing in Mexico and parts of Central America. In 600, Teotihuacan was in its greatest splendor and influence, when the Valley of Mexico became united under its leadership. Its influences are noted in various locations as far as the Guatemalan highlands.

However, the power and grandeur of Teotihuacan ended very suddenly around 600, when the great city itself perished. No archeological evidence has been uncovered to come to a conclusive consensus on the details of what brought it to its swift end. Excavations everywhere revealed ash and debris in the Citadel complex where about 26,000 buildings lie in ruin. Elsewhere were the 2,000 apartment complexes, a great compound, palaces, slums and markets that once made up a flourishing city. As is typical of history, the first parts to collapse were the oldest and most developed zones. What followed was a vastly diminished population that lived among the ruins of the former metropolis.

The demise of Teotihuacan was merely the first link in a chain of disturbances that would eventually cause the collapse of the Classic Maya. It was a scene that reminds one of the time when, around the Mediterranean, the first civilizations in Mycenaean, Troy, Syria, Palestine, and elsewhere, were reduced to ashes and melted slag. As with these other times and places, the origin of such intense, widespread fire is unknown to modern archeology, making it one of the greatest mysteries of Mesoamerican history.

The volcano known as Ilopango had erupted in the previous cycle (AD 250-450) and had remained dormant until this cycle when it erupted again. Reoccupation of the area was slow after the first eruption, and a settlement was not again reestablished for another two centuries. Ceren, the new settlement near this volcano, was demolished as the sleeping Ilopango again erupted with force. The event took place around the same time that Teotihuacan was being struck with disaster, and as before, the area was rendered uninhabitable by humans, but not vegetation and wildlife.

Nearly everywhere is the evidence of turmoil and economic or political collapse associated with the fall of the Maya. Many major sites in Western Chiapas were abandoned in 650. Similarly, Seibal on the Rio Pasion, and different sites in Guatemala were deserted between 550 and 700. Unlike Teotihuacan, where there is evidence for the fatal fall by fire, there are only a few clues that do not resolve what was the cause of the abandonment of Tikal, Uaxactun, and the numerous other sites in the central Maya area, during the Classic period.

Evidence at the Altar de Sacrificios first indicates maximum decline and then a cultural peak, an example reflective of the few sites that were not abandoned. Something had caused these Maya sites to decline and the few remaining settlements would later be used as a refuge. Other locations were being thrown down into dust and decay, causing their populations to seek the few remaining inhabitable sites.

An “inscriptional hiatus” marks the collapse when almost no dated monuments were erected for the period between 535 and 600. Other cities, like Tikal, had no dated monuments for the period of 550 to 700. Social and economic collapse was so evident that the elite class was no longer within the later archeological record. Administrative and residential structures, and palaces were abandoned, all monuments (funerary and historical) were no longer produced, luxury items could no longer be found, ceremonies ceased, and conferences characteristic of Maya-elite-class life lapsed into nonexistence.

Many a hypothesis has been brought forward as an explanation for this great mystery. How had the great Mayan civilization fallen? Predictably, some historians suggest that “barbarians” from the northern deserts had destroyed it. However, this hypothesis has lost much credit as a possible solution to the overall collapse; it was merely a symptom of a weakened civilization.

Another theory is that the area may have had more population than its capability to produce food to sustain it. Very extensive parts of the rain forest had been destroyed by cultivation, typical of civilization’s disregard for Nature. Thereby, they had decreased the availability of wild foods. Any event that would cause recurrent crop failure, such as floods or droughts, would have eventually meant the downfall of the Maya. An invasion by locusts has also been proposed as a reason for crop failure. Some scholars have blamed the collapse on poor ecological practices leading to soil exhaustion. The Maya had used the slash and burn method which involves the cutting down of wild vegetation and burning it to produce a simple fertilizer. Savanna grass competition, water loss, and erosion would have followed.

Some evidence of disease can be found, while other areas yield data on malnutrition. For example, skeletal remains at Tikal and the Altar de Sacrificios indicate disease and famine. What a few historians claim to be the “only reasonable explanation” is a migration of the Maya people. However, this hypothesis only creates its own unsolved problems: Where did they migrate to, and most importantly, why? In sum total, these are a mass of educated guesses that in all probability played some part in the collapse.

Others claim that widespread catastrophe was induced by earthquakes and hurricanes. Here, unlike the other suggestions, there is confirmation of widespread devastation in the Mesoamerican’s own written history. In the early portion of the Anals de Cuauhtitlan and Codex Chimalpopoca, a new Earth was created, and the Toltec, those who flourished after the Maya, began their year count in 726, while a new Sun was created in 751; the very year after this cycle’s close. Manuscript Troano and other documents also describe that a violent catastrophe had struck.

According to these annals, it was a time when the ocean fell on the continent in huge waves and a furious hurricane swept the Earth. As a result, scattered to the winds and swallowed by the ocean were cities, towns, and farmland. Tides of enormous force even roared over mountains, while volcanoes erupted, and the devastating winds nearly caused human extinction. Mountains had vanished, others had been lifted, and rivers were thrust from their beds. The Earth not only appeared as a new place, for the Maya it was! These events marked the end of the Wind-Sun when Hurakan (from this name “hurricane” is derived) caused the end of the world age by wind.

Some of the archeological evidence confirms this Mayan history. Many of the Maya sites show a 90% to 100% reduction of population. That must have seemed like something very close to human extinction. Tikal is 175 kilometers (109 miles) from the Gulf of Honduras, 260 kilometers (161 miles) northwest of the Bay of Campechan, and 380 kilometers (236 miles) from the north Pacific Ocean. In spite of this distance from seawater there are pieces of coral, mussels and shellfish in abundance there. Also, many hills around Teotihuacan show an abundant layer of sea shells at the surface. Might this be the evidence of the huge waves that struck? Possibly the abandonment of the administrative facets of this society and the palaces, as well as the other evidence of Maya-elite-class life ending, was due to such a catastrophe.

The cultural hero in the Classic period was the priest-intellectual, part of the elite class, who was purported to be able to predict disaster with the use of sophisticated and ingenious astronomical calendars. However, in the following period (the Terminal Classic: 800-1050), in contrast, the warrior became the cultural hero. Had the elite class been regarded as incapable because catastrophe had not been predicted, and thereby, averted? The upper class was responsible for any catastrophe, and there was the loss of all prestige, evident even in the archeological record. A quote seems to sum up the ultimate reason for the Mayan collapse: “Whatever the cause, the progressive or sudden disintegration of the former centers of the Old Empire resulted in the cultural death of all of that region, leaving the splendid cities of their ancestors. The forest promptly resumed possession, and they lay buried asleep amidst profuse vegetation.”


The Caribbean

Like the Maya who totally depopulated the southern lowlands, others in Mesoamerica were fleeing away from long-settled areas. The Saladoid peoples fled to the Dominican Republic where they occupied an area that an earlier (Archaic) people had just left behind. Others may have joined them, as suggested by the appearance of a new type of pottery (Chicoid). Later, this new mix of people, the Ostinoid, would migrate to Haiti and Jamaica. It is uncertain whether the original point of migration was from South America or Puerto Rico and Hispaniola that brought people into the Greater Antilles, and finally, the Lesser Antilles. Lower Central America shows changes in the Tempisque Valley, Ometepe Island and the area stretching from Tamarindo to the Isthmus of Rivas, which also reflect a scene of hurricane devastation.

Using the discarded objects of previous generations, those at Cano del Oso, on the Caribbean coast of Barinas, Venezuela, were making earthen mounds to raise their houses and trails. The flood level of the Llanos had gotten so high that during the rainy season, water had dissolved away their houses and made trails unusable. Previous generations had no need for raising their dwellings, suggesting that it may have been the result of rains spawned by vast storms; possibly, it was the powerful hurricanes that also struck the Maya.


South America

South American societies are also reflective of the events that shook the Americas. The cultures of Peru, like the Maya, had a long development that was marked by changes and fragmentation, but ultimately they would become more urban and agricultural. A maximum level of population would be reached, along with an increase in the number of settlements and cities. Agricultural developments brought about the first great valley irrigation systems on the coast. Craft specialization and marked social class distinctions indicated an advanced social structure. Above all, these changes were to bring the rise of great Peruvian cities. As we had so often seen elsewhere, here the history was one of the rise, flourishing and rather sudden decline of an urban-agricultural civilization.

History was repeating itself as migrations, similar to those 1,000 years prior, once again overtook the Southern Andes. Tiahuanaco had influenced the entire highland from the coast of Chile northward to the basin of Lake Titicaca. Hauri, an outgrowth of Tiahuanaco, affected most of Peru, extending into the coastal valleys of Ica, Nazca, and Hauri. The influences spread at the same time that crafts were lost over the whole coast from Nazca to Moche. The scene indicates that social structure had collapsed and people fled everywhere. Walled settlements and storage buildings suggest either human conflict, or some other violent natural forces, that they sought to protect themselves from. Regardless of what the causes, kingdoms, settlements and crafts were disappearing throughout the Southern Andes as Nature reclaimed her domain.

The story of the Andes is somewhat like that of Mesoamerica. Even though some South Americans had used huge stone-lined galleries or chambers underground, protected from their enemies and the elements, they, the Recauy culture, would not last beyond the 7th Century. Shortly thereafter, the Moche civilization and crafts disappear from the north coast. Also on the north coast, Huaca del Sol and Huaca del Luna, the hitching-posts of the Sun and Moon, were being used to observe the solstice and lunar cycle. Obviously, these sites represent an effort to determine when disaster would strike, but their structures failed to do so since, thereafter, they lost their political influence. Evidence at Chimu sites indicate that earth-movements began to damage the irrigation works, reminiscent of Mayan history, which included mountain building and earthquakes. In the midst of it all, Tiahuanaco and Hauri would resurface later to develop into large kingdoms which would once again bring devastation to civilization in order that the wilderness in the Andes would be replenished.


North America

In the northeastern United States there was the sudden decline and end of the Adena-Hopewell. In previous cycles they had been continually forced to migrate away from areas and reestablish themselves elsewhere, but this time they would not continue to see another such period (at least not as a distinct cultural unit). Predictably though, the event(s) that caused this sudden decline is shrouded in mystery. Typical of the human-versus-human perspective, it has been suggested that the decline was due to “peasant revolt,” though no conclusive evidence is available. Climate change was also suggested because it would have prevented the support of populations in the area. If this were the case, it was short-lived, since another group of peoples would greatly populate the area. Possibly, it was during the same event that caused Arkansas’ White River Volcano, in the Boston Mountains, to make an explosive eruption in the early 7th Century (the time of the Ilopango eruption). Whatever the event(s) was, it caused the regression of at least the entire north-central United States, bringing about a new culture called the Mississippian.

One archeologist studying the Southeast indicates the type of mystery that results from repeated devastation and the absence of an accepted indigenous written history:

“Possibly the most important question in southeastern archeology is why states did not develop in the Southeast. The conditions of environmental limitations on agricultural land (‘circumscription’), limited routes of exchange and chiefdoms ready to make the transition are all present. Why, then, did only a few, at best, of the societies develop into states (or even into ‘Archaic civilizations’), and why did the few examples of possible states in the area not survive? Perhaps climate is part of the answer; it is notable that the temperate north of Europe was late in developing states. More likely, population pressure was just not high enough to force the development of such organizations, but the reasons for relatively low population are not known. Warfare has been suggested as a cause of low population, but warfare has led toward the formation of state more often than away."

Again, the usual assumption surfaces, human conflict, but was it? Or, were there repeated catastrophes that led to this scenario?

The southwestern United States was also transformed. In the Pine Lawn and Mimbres Valleys of the Mongollon culture, in Arizona, the settlements at greater altitudes had been largely abandoned in favor of locations noticeably lower and closer to the rivers or farmable land and water. Drought must have forced this shift.

Also in Arizona, the Hohokam who occupied the Gila and Salt River Valleys show a heightened influx of traits of Mexican origin, obviously some of the Mesoamericans had fled there. Puebloean and Anasazi people migrated into southern Nevada, since the first of their architecture and ceramics appear during this cycle. The Woodland culture was migrating westward to the eastern slopes of the Rockies, making contact with the eastward moving Puebloean. A totally new culture surfaced among the transitions, the Fremont, which made its first appearance in western Utah and eastern-most Nevada. The Lovelock culture ended in west-central Nevada to be found later occupying the area around Honey Lake in northeastern California. Wunderlich, Eagle Cave, Coontail Spin, and other sites in the Diablo Range in central Texas would thenceforth remain uninhabited. Migrations brought many into the southwest to be followed by favorable climate changes, bringing these cultures to their peak, and leading, unfortunately, to their own self-perpetrated downfall.

Changes extended from one end of North America to the other. The Laurel culture that occupied Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan could not survive this period’s onslaught. Ipiutak, at times referred to as the “arctic metropolis,” was very large and unlike anything ever found in the arctic. This city with its five avenues and nearly 1,000 houses would not continue into the 8th Century. The Okvik-Old Bering Sea culture was, at this time, ousted by another culture called the Punuk. The Birnirk culture was, for the first time, recorded around Cape Nome on the southern coast of the Seward peninsula, all of which demonstrates that North America, too, was deeply affected by widespread change.


Japan

“Now (ill) luck sent by the Powers of Evil is for the sake of making people correct their conduct; natural catastrophes are given for men’s instruction. It is just in this way that Bright Heaven communicates to us as a lesson, tokens of the former spirits. When misfortune has reached a climax, one may have remorse; when ruin has come, one may think of establishing himself again, but what avails it?”(XIX, 12). So states the Nihongi, one of the Shinto scriptures demonstrating that some people had understood history, but few listened.

Buddhist missionaries from Korea first set foot on Japanese soil in 552, and brought with them new and lethal disease, perhaps smallpox. In 585, Moriya Monomobe, who opposed imperial rule and the Buddhist religion, burned down the temples of the Buddhists. During that year disease once again swept Japan. An earthquake demolished “all” the houses in 599, which lead the Emperor to give orders that all people sacrifice to the “God of Earthquakes.” Hail the size of “peaches,” and the next day, the size of “plums,” came in summer. What followed was a drought that lasted from spring to summer in the year 627. First there came great rains and floods, then the Palace of Okamoto was devoured by fire, and finally a great drought followed by famine swept throughout the empire in a single year. Three years later, in 639, there was the unusual - thunder in a cloudless sky - and a second famine struck.

Later, a great drought began as an earthquake occurred that was accompanied by rain. This was followed by another two quakes the day afterward. That same year (642) there was the bizarre phenomena of an earthquake accompanied by rain from a cloudless sky. In the winter of that year many days had only thunder in weather that was as warm as spring. A year following, strange clouds in five different colors were seen, and also a mist of a uniform blue ascended up from the Earth everywhere. During that time interval, a westward moving wind brought hail, and there was a time when it became so cold that people had to wear “three waded garments” in summer. Thousands perished in yet another terrible famine that struck in 664

It was not long before a new religion had sprung up from the insanity of the chaos, called Tokoyonomushi, whose devotees worshiped a large worm, got drunk on sake, danced in the streets, and gave away all their money. A great earthquake hit Tsukushi which split open the ground, causing the peasants’ houses in all the villages to be brought down in ruins (December 678). These events, plus civil unrest, were what the first century of this cycle had brought to Japan.

The following century brought many similar events. A rain of “ashes” (volcanic, or carbon precipitation?) fell, a strong rain lasting three days brought flooding, a hard hitting storm shattered houses, and an earthquake shook Japan in the year 680. Four quakes struck the following year, submerging more than 777 hectares (3 square miles). Around that time, a comet was observed, and the Moon and Mars were in alignment. A year later, five more tremors rocked the Japanese island, and one of which is described in the Nihongi as follows:

“At the hour of the boar (10 pm) there was a great earthquake. Throughout the country men and women shrieked aloud, and knew not East from West. Mountains fell down and rivers gushed forth; the official buildings of the provinces and districts, the barns and houses of the common people, the temples, pagodas, and shrines were destroyed in numbers which surpass all estimate. In consequence many of the people and domestic animals were killed or injured. The hot springs of Iyo were dried up at this time and ceased to flow. In the province of Tosa more than 500,000 shiro of cultivated land were swallowed up and became sea. Old men said that never before had there been such an earthquake. On this night a rumbling noise like that of drums was heard in the East. Some said that the island of Idzu (Vries Island; volcanic) had increased of itself on two sides, the north and west, to the extent of more than 300 rods [nearly 1.6 kilometers or 1 mile], and that a new island had been formed. That noise, like that of drums, was the sound made by the gods in constructing this island.” (XXIX, 48-49)

That same year another rain of ashes fell, withering vegetation, while the Isle of Sikokf had 202,350 hectares (500,000 acres) claimed by the sea. In addition, a quake followed that cost thousands of lives, and another quake brought tidal waves (tsunamis) that ate up 2,072 hectares (8 square miles) of Shikoku. Certainly, 684 was a year no one really wanted to be in Japan.

One after another, events raged on. In 685 another earthquake struck. The following year the Treasury Department at Naniha took fire, burning the entire palace, lightning struck the Department of Interior, consuming the stored tax cloth, and another tremor hit. Droughts were experienced in 688 and 690, followed in 692 by great floods that prompted low interest loans to the devastated areas. An epidemic beginning in 698 ricocheted through the islands for the following fifteen years, to return again in 735 to 737. At this point the Nihongi and Kojiki end the nearly 1,400-year narrative on the emperors’ reigns, indicating Japan’s exhausted condition.


China

China had what might have appeared to be a spell of unity and prosperity for about a century and a half, beginning in 589. On the political front it seemed as though both North and South China had become unified. This was in striking contrast with the previous Huns’ devastation that caused disunity and degradation. Regardless, China would suffer many crises.

The nomads on the Eurasian steppe pastures seemed to know China would reunify. As a result, in 552 the Turks (Tu-chuen) established an empire on the scale of that of the Huns (Hsiung-nu) in the 2nd Century BC. However, the empire did not last long before it split in two in 581, making it easy prey for the Chinese who conquered the Eastern Turks in 630. Then China with the help of the Uighurs also smashed the Western Turks in the seven years thereafter.

Prior to the conquest of the Turks, China had experienced so many troubles that it lead to the Sui dynasty’s fall. The fall is believed to be the result of the over straining of its resources, and the unreasonable demands for labor, leading to rebellion. The T’ang dynasty (618-907) would then succeed the Sui dynasty, and thereby, began to recover the outlying tributaries subjugated by the Han. In the reorganization, the T’ang would eventually conquer the Turks.

The whole of the 7th Century was marked by a fierce, bloody struggle of the Kao-li (Koguryo) and Po-chi (Korean states) against the T’ang, and earlier by the Sui who had supported the Korean state, Silla. Kao-li, occupying northern Korea and eastern Manchuria, started to experience troubles beginning with the death of their leader, Kai-su-wen, and crop failure. Near mid-century, confusion abounded, “People seized and sold each other. The earth was split by earthquakes. Wolves and foxes walked the towns. Moles burrowed in the gates. People were frightened of everything."

Conditions were never better for the brutal war that followed. Kao-li was debased in 668, with a large number of people either being killed or fleeing to the north to settle among the Mo-ho’s. The only things which profited were the Chinese court, and Nature, whose wilderness was growing. The Chinese forces remained at the capital (P’yongyang) until 676 when they withdrew to southern Manchuria. Korea was then increasingly dominated by the rapidly expanding power of the south Korean state of Silla.

These were not the only events that would transpire in 7th-Century Chinese history. The Chinese were engaged in foreign wars practically throughout the century. In the region around Koko Nor Basin were the T’u-yu-hun, a Tibetan tribe, who brought considerable trouble in the early 630s. They were, however, defeated in 634, but remained unsubdued and invaded Chinese territory several times. Other Tibetans, who had exerted constant pressure on the northern border of Szechwan since the 630s. They were the most serious threat to China in Kao Tsung’s reign (649-683), having driven out the T’u-yu-hun from their homeland by 670. After a series of difficult campaigns they were finally checked in 679, only to later reemerge in renewed warfare in the late 690s. The conquered Eastern Turks, who had settled along the northern border, rebelled from 679 to 681, and were stifled only after widespread destruction. Chinese forces, in doing so, had experienced heavy losses. The Khitans in Manchuria rebelled against their Chinese governor in 696, overrunning part of Hopeh, and the Turks followed suit in 698. As a result, China’s economy began to crumble.

As the 7th Century closed, the expenses of the empire called for new taxes. Oppression and heavy taxation had brought such a burden that huge numbers of peasant families left the provinces of Hopeh and Shantung. This migration, accelerated by the Khitans and Turk invasions, brought most of the peasants out into vacant land in the central and southern regions of China. There they became unregistered squatters and no longer had to pay taxes. Attempts to stop it were ineffectual, and large regions of Hopeh and Shantung were returning to wilderness.

Disease epidemics were also aiding in the return of wilderness. First, epidemic disease struck in Riangsu (546), Honan (565), and southern Manchuria during the military campaign against Korea (598). Bubonic plague first swept Kwang Tung in 610 and would be common by 642. In 612, Shantung and elsewhere were hit, and then Shensi, Kansu, Ninghsia, and Shensi (636) were hit as the Chinese were smashing the Turks. Then Shensi was hit again (641), followed by epidemics in Honan and Shensi (642). In 643, Shensi and Honan were followed with disease again striking Shensi and also Anhui. Anhui, Szechwan and the Northeast (644), Szechwan again (648), and Kiangsu (655) were being devoured by disease as the mid-century confusion abounded. Then epidemics hit Honan and Shantung (682) so much that the land was described as being covered with bodies. Afterward, several thousand perished when disease overtook Honan and Shantung (707) once more. The following year a thousand more would wither in Honan and Shantung. Disease was taking human life in the overall effort toward the ultimate goal of reawakening the wilderness.

The 8th Century continued to bring violent conflict. The Turks were again threatening to become a major power, rivaling China in Central Asia and along China’s borders. Mo-cho’o, the Turkish Khan who had invaded Hopeh in 698, was controlling the steppe from the Chinese frontier to Transoxiana by 711. It looked as though a new unified Turkish Empire was about to emerge. However, in 716 he was murdered, his flimsy empire collapsed and China was saved the possible hostilities. Tibetans, on the other hand, were invading the northwest year after year, from 714 onward. China brought large-scale warfare against them (727-729), ending in a settlement in 730, but it was not long before fighting again broke out. This time it was the western territories in the Tarim and along the border of Kansu. Lasting past mid-century, this, along with other disasters, would knock some heavy blows against China.

Confucianism was revived during this period when the Shih King (the major odes of the kingdom, third decade or that of T’ang) was written, and includes the following:

“Disorder grows, and no peace can be secured. Every state is being ruined. Everything is reduced to ashes by calamity. Heaven is sending down death and disorder. It is now sending down those devourers of the grain. All is peril and going to ruin.”(3:2 & 7). “Famine comes again and again. The drought is excessive; Its fervors become more and more tormenting. The drought is excessive; - parched are the hills, and the streams are dry.”(4:1,2 & 5) “Very long have we been disquieted and the great calamities are sent down. [Good] men are going away, and the country is sure to go to ruin.”(10:1 & 5) “Compassionate Heaven is arrayed in angry terrors. Heaven is indeed sending down ruin, afflicting us with famines, so that people are all wandering fugitives. In the settled regions, and on the borders, all is desolation.”(11:1)

The worst seemed to come upon China right around mid-century. Defeated in 751 by the Arabs on the Talas River in present-day Soviet Central Asia, China lost control of everything west of the Tarim Basin. An army of 50,000 men was almost completely lost in a southwestern campaign against the new state of Nan Chao in Yunnan; a new ally of the Tibetans who together were exerting a continuous threat along the entire western border. A new state, Parhae, emerged in place of Koa-li (Koguryo), and with Khitans and Hsi peoples, constantly brought trouble so that China lost its grip on the Manchuria-Korea border.

A general named An Lu-shan led a rebellion that swept through Hopeh, captured the eastern capital, Ho-nan (Loyang), and finally took the main capital, Ch’ang-an. Weakened by disaster, China fell to widespread ruin in less than two years (755-756). The rebellion was not suppressed until 763, and by that time the Tibetans and their ally, the Nan Chao Kingdom, were occupying the whole of modern Kansu. Later that year, the capital was taken and looted as they would begin a centuries-long occupation of the Chinese northwest. A series of epidemics then came upon the coastal provinces of China that began (762) with more than half the population of Shantung province perishing.181 In a little more than a decade, China, the giant, had been dwarfed.

The profound effect that the period had on China is once again evident in the census readings. In 600, the registered population was about 9 million households and 45 million people. In a mere quarter century, population was reduced to one fourth that size, to 2.25 million households and 11.25 million people. A steady climb thereafter brought back the AD 600 figures, only to have them plummet once again to a new low; 2 million households and 10 million people in the 750s.20,25 It’s almost enough to put someone to sleep to think that this census change was once again blamed on administrative inefficiency. As it has been said, “It is what we think we know that prevents us from learning.”


The Arab-Islamic Conquests

Examining history suggests something had again made conquest somewhat effortless. Once more nomads, those closer to Nature, take tremendous territories from what were supposed to be powerful nations. Consider this historian’s comment on the Arab (Muslim) conquests:

“The Arab conquests of the Seventh to Eighth Centuries AD, present one of the most interesting and perplexing problems of history. Their speed and performance, the immense size of the lands they covered, and most of all, the contrast between the methods used and the results produced have always been a source of wonder to historians, and it has taxed all their powers to find adequate explanation of them. The conquests have been described so frequently that they might seem a straightforward commonplace event, and yet some inexplicable and mysterious quality still underlies them. We see a horde of nomads with no military experience beyond that of desert skirmishes and bandit raids, who, at a given moment, embark on a phase of rapid expansion, confront and defeat the regular armies of great empires, advance irresistibly for thousands of miles from their native land and establish lasting control over the territories they have conquered."

In 570 one of the most influential men in history was born in Mecca, and his name was Muhammad. His teachings and the state he founded would not only have a profound effect on the history of this period, but also for the generations that followed. It is said that, in the month of Ramadan in 610, Muhammad was visited by the Archangel Gabriel while meditating on Mount Hira, near Mecca. He heard Gabriel dictate words to him, revealing certain parts of a book that was in the possession of Allah (God) in Heaven. He was then compelled by the Archangel to transmit these words to his fellow townsmen in Mecca.

Muhammad then preached for 12 years at Mecca at his own peril, since, for many, the message was unwelcome. His authoritative tone, and the possible economic effects Islam - which means “self-surrender to God” - might have had, encouraged the “establishment” to bare hostility towards him. City leaders were so opposed to his teaching, in fact, that civil war broke out in Mecca in 622.

That same year there came changing fortunes. The agricultural oasis-state, Yathrib, invited him to take over their ailing government. He escaped from Mecca with Abu Bakr, and later would be joined by other Meccan Muslims.

Having become a ruler, it was not long before war was waged on his Meccan kinsmen who still remained in Mecca. Early in January of the year 630, the “Prophet” with an army of 10,000 men marched on Mecca for the last time. The conquest of the city was practically bloodless. By 632, when Muhammad died, his government was acknowledged throughout Arabia, and the seeds for conquest had been sown.

The Holy Quran offers an understanding of the reasons for the events of this time. Not only does it describe the impetus behind the “mysterious” conquests, but also why there were the repeated destructions on Earth. Though it is now 1,300 years later, with millions of devote Muslims, few have fully acknowledged the message.

Consider these statements from the Holy Quran, in which God’s name is Allah:

“And were it not for Allah’s repelling some men with others, the Earth would certainly be in a state of disorder; but Allah is Gracious to the creatures.”(2:251) “Does it not then direct them aright how many of the generations in whose dwelling-places they go about we destroyed before them? Most surely there are signs in this for those endowed with understanding.”(20:128) “Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with Ad, (the people of) Aram, possessors of lofty buildings, the like of which were not created in the (other) cities; and (with) Samood, who hewed out the rocks in the valley, and (with) Firon, the lord of hosts, who committed inordinacy in the cities, so they made great mischief therein? Therefore, your Lord let down upon them a portion of the chastisement.”(89:6-13) “Indeed there have been examples before you; therefore travel in the Earth and see what was the end of the rejecters.”(3:136) “And Allah is not unjust to them, but they are unjust to themselves.” (3:116) “And the Earth, He has set it for living creatures.”(55:10) “And Allah does not desire any injustice to the creatures.” (3:107)

In being “gracious to the creatures” the conquests began (633) with Iraq and Syria. The following year, the Arabs had their first encounter with Byzantine forces in southern Palestine. The Byzantine forces were repelled and destroyed, after which the Arabs scattered in disorganized bands, laying waste all of southern Palestine.

At Qadisiyya, in 636 (or 637), the Arab and Persian forces met in battle. Greatly outnumbered, with odds of about two or three to one against them, the Arabs took the victory and with it the possession of Iraq. Later that year, Byzantine and Arab forces faced each other in a place east of the Sea of Galilee on the banks of the river Yarmuk. Again, Arab forces were outnumbered about two to one, but victory was still their’s. The conquest brought the downfall of Byzantine rule and allowed them to take possession of Syria. An historian of Arabia tells us that the conquest of Syria was an “easy conquest” in spite of the battles with Byzantium and a devastating plague in 639. Possibly, Syria was already in a state of squalor when the Arabs came and conquered. Reflecting the misery of Syria, the Byzantine emperor, Heraclitus, bids, “Farewell Syria. What a good country for the enemy."

The conquests that followed bare witness to the condition of that part of the world. Almost immediately after Syria was conquered, the Arabs invaded Mesopotamia (639-641). Earlier, this region had been fought over by both the Byzantines and Persians, the two strongest powers. The Byzantines had abandoned its cities as the result of that conflict; a decade-long fight for the area. At that point Mesopotamia was being protected by local garrisons. In spite of a region coveted by two super powers, the Arabs merely moved in with little or no resistence, and secured the region for themselves.

At the same time, Amr Bakr arrived in Egypt with scarcely 4,000 horsemen. Regardless of the odds against them, with fewer lives and less effort spent than any prior Arab campaign, they conquered nearly the entire country in a little more than two years (639-642). In 642, Shustar was besieged, and Hormuzan, the Persian general, was captured. That same year all the cities of Khuzistan were captured and occupied. This led to the Battle at Nihawand; the ailing Persian Empire’s last effort. For three days the battle raged, with the Arabs again fighting against superior numbers. In Arab tradition it was known as the “victory of victories,” with the proud Persian army destroyed, the Persians would never again challenge the Arabs in battle. With the Sassanid (Persian) Empire dissolved, city after city fell under the sway of the Arabs. By 644, Azerbaijan to the steppes of Mughan and Derbend on the Caspian Sea were Arab territory. In 646, Alexandria was taken, compelling the Byzantine forces into flight, making the conquest of Egypt complete, as well. In a little more than a decade they had captured vast territories with very little effort.

The conquests would continue far and wide. North Africa was the most difficult of the conquests (680-712), because of native resistence; not because of Byzantine, which was still very weak. The Berbers, Libyans and Numids brought conflict that lasted over a century in spite of effective large-scale raids. Not all of North Africa was this difficult, since frequently the urban centers were emptied simply at the approach of the numerically inferior Arabs. A navy of Egyptians and Syrians joined the Arab forces against Rhodes, Cyprus, and later, Sicily (649-669), and would go on to defeat the Byzantine navy at Phoenix, Egypt (665). At the same time (663-668), Constantinople and Anatolia (Turkey) were experiencing annual raids and devastations. In 670, Tunisia and Libya were captured while Carthage and Utica would be devoured in 697-698.

The early 8th Century brought the conquests into Transoxiana, with some of the furthest limits reached in central Asia. In less than ten years Tukharistan (705-710), India (711-712) and Turkestan (711-715) were taken under the Arab yoke. One of the conquering forces in the previous cycle, the Visgoths, at this time a kingdom in Spain, were weakened by internal conflict, rebellious subject peoples and economic collapse. The discontented subjects were easy prey, as was the entire Visigoth Kingdom, and the Arab conquerors overtook the kingdom between 710 and 713. Many areas were laid waste by the irregular raids which took place at the same time as those that overran Anatolia (Turkey). Later campaigns (713-734) were brought against Portugal, Spain and France. By 751 the Arabs had come into conflict with and defeated the Chinese, making them victorious against each of the major powers of both Europe and Asia. This was the last date for military action in central Asia, and for the unity and expansion of the Islamic empire. As a settled people they were no longer as close to Nature, and as a result, would henceforth be torn by internal conflict and revolution.

The Arab conquerors were not immune to the other types of “natural” disaster. Arabic writings indicate more epidemic outbreaks in Syria, Egypt and Iraq than in the period following the conquests. In addition, Syria and Libya were in a terrible famine in 683, which took thousands of lives. In 690, as Veneto and Ligurina, Italy were experiencing incessant rains and the consequential floods, Al-Fustat (Old Cairo), Egypt was also flooded. According to the Arabic sources, ‘abd al-Aziz Ibn Marwan, governor of Egypt, chose Helwan for a settlement when floods caused him to evacuate Al-Fustat. In 718, Syria was again hit with famine that brought mass starvation. These events were only those mentioned in the Arabic sources, and undoubtedly, much more took place.

Looking back at the transition brought on by the Arab conquests, it was astounding to note how easily they had helped to bring about the ultimate goal. The invasions had broken up many powerful empires, large estates, towns and cities. For example, Memphis was leveled in 640, and the remaining structures were dismantled and used in neighboring villages. Many places would experience the same fate, such as Cairo, and even the outer layer of the Great Pyramids at Giza was removed to be used elsewhere.

The persecution faced by anyone other than the “people of the book” (Quran plus the Bible) - the Christians, Jews and Muslims - caused many to flee as the conquest approached. At the time of the Persian conquest, for example, massive numbers of Zoroastrians fled into India for asylum and settled along the west coast of the Deccan. The paying of tribute and subjugation of anyone but a Muslim often sent Christians and Jews into mass migration, as well. Such was often the case in the North African raids where, at the approach of the invaders, the Latin Christian populations fled away from the cities, leaving them open to the less numerous Arabs.

In the first stages of Arab expansion, plague was brought with them, causing further depopulation and abandoned settlements. Possibly, they not only defeated the Chinese army in 751, but brought disease back to China. This may be why the Shantung province had more than half its population perish from the onslaughts of plague by 762.

As a result of the conquests, agricultural areas were also left abandoned allowing wild vegetation to claim the region. For example, evidence shows the decay of a massive canal system in Mesopotamia and Iran shortly following the conquests. The reason was that the salt of irrigation and the silt of lost topsoil, the result of destroyed wilderness, clogged the once massive agricultural region.2,169 Also, the Arabs brought about the end of Palestine’s farmlands, which, through poor ecological practices, weather changes and the end of civilization, created conditions that would prevent agricultural use of the land until the 20th Century.

A similar picture was found everywhere the conquests spread. For example, Transoxiana and Farghana were flourishing commercial and agricultural centers before the ravages of the conquest. Unusable was the Silk Road that went through them, linking these regions to distant China. Many trade centers, and the industries that depended on them, had been disrupted by the conquests. In deed, the conquests had been “gracious to the creatures” as wilderness consumed the empty expanse.

Rebellion was stifled with force and severely crippled or eliminated cities. In Paikand, Tukharistan, for example, one year after the city was taken, a rebellion broke loose that caused the Arabs to sack the city. Afterward, its population was put to death or deported, bringing its abandonment and ruin. In like manner, many an area would once again become the stronghold of Nature.

The first consideration of the Muslims was to plunder, destroying class distinction and social structure. Thereby, their effects were to bring an immediate end to the Nature and human exploiting ways of a given society. The overall picture can be clearly seen: urban and suburban settlements were in ruin, abandoned or shrunk in size, farmlands were instead growing food for wild creatures, social structure and class distinction had collapsed, and trade was in decay. In short, it was not just the Muslims who were the victors, but Nature herself, or as the Quran had so accurately put it, everything that took place had been “gracious to the creatures,” and those who suffered were “unjust to themselves” (for destroying life to begin with).

The Arabs, like others before them, were not learning the lesson they would eventually teach us through history. They began as nomads, herding animals in a nearly constant search for new grazing pastures. They had no permanent settlements. In fact, they were hostile to urban civilization in both lifestyle and ideology, even at war with it. The Caliph, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (634-644) established a domain, not an empire, actually owned by the state, on the lands of the Persian and Byzantine conquests and other abandoned sites. He fully sought to undermine individual and egocentric ideals to bring about what was good for the collective whole.

However, ‘Umar was assassinated in 644 out of a private grudge. The six authoritative companions of ‘Umar’s were to pick among themselves a successor, and the choice was ‘Uthman. He would give his kinsmen posts of authority and wealth, overriding ‘Umar’s ban on possessing land outside Arabia by granting private concessions. As a result, he created a class of big landowners and capitalists, and thereby, brought about the consequential class distinction which led to class hatred. Thus, discontentment became manifested and ‘Uthman was murdered in his home one day while praying.

The Arabs then split into three factions, and civil war began (656) with the Umayyad family the victors. Discontentment, however, would continue. What was once an Islamic state became an Islamic empire, with hereditary successors to be chosen from the Umayyad family. As time passed, the treasuries became filled with the severe taxation and exploitation of its subject people. Unfortunately, especially for the Arabs, few continued their ancestral nomadism in their new lands, but instead the majority settled in a new urban life they had once been so hostile to. They had lost the ideals that had made them such a brilliant success. Like so many of the nomads of conquest, they were now exploiting Nature and their fellow humans. As a result, the seeds of their own destruction had been sown.

First there came the consequent civil war. The Battle of Zab in January 750, the very last year of this cycle, made an end of the Umayyad dynasty. With it came an end of the supremacy of Arabs over non-Arabs, an end of the Islamic Empire’s expansion, and the beginning of the end of its unity.

Once again history repeats itself with the mysteries behind a people living close to Nature who conquer vast territories and easily defeat the powerful armies of long-standing civilizations. The Arabs were not violent, aggressive people. In fact, they had almost no military experience prior to the conquests. Yet, the first big mystery was that either Byzantine or Persia had been defeated so thoroughly and quickly; especially since they were often outnumbered. The second mystery was that both had fallen simultaneously through the hand of militarily inexperienced nomads. Persia had been a major power in the Near East for centuries and even at the time of Muhammad had won many military victories. Persia’s sudden and total collapse seems to be without explanation, especially when compared to the simultaneous fate of Byzantine. The third mystery is that such a vast territory, stretching from the northern parts of Africa and Eurasia on the one hand, and from Spain to China on the other, had been taken by their “expansion.” Had some force, some event, weakened Byzantine, Persia and the other areas the Arabs would make easy conquest of?


Byzantine and Around the Mediterranean

Twenty cities in Byzantine Asia were examined archeologically, disclosing what was at least part of the story. In Ephesus, the buildings of the upper agora were abandoned, and the luxurious apartments of the embolos were ruined forever. Constant activity was noted right up to the end of the 6th Century when the city was leveled, filled with rubble, and finally used as terraces for huts and a storehouse. Ephesus was destroyed sometime after 614, its most vital part forever gone, it fell into ruin, and was not again to be densely occupied.

At Sardis, the story was the same as at Ephesus, and for that matter, all of the twenty cities of Byzantine, Asia. The centuries of the Arab attacks are unknown for Sardis, and the city rarely appears in written sources. From the 7th to 9th Centuries the archeological record is scarce, and at times nonexistent. Then it finally emerges from the darkness as a puny remnant of its former self. Sardis was so devastated it did not even warrant a mention for two centuries when its resettlement had just begun.

All of the twenty cities suffered a substantial decline, with only Smyrna remaining, probably as the center to which the dwindled population fled. Everywhere there was ruin and squalor, and if the coin finds at Ephesus with a date of AD 614 mark the date of destruction, then ruin struck before the conquests. An archeologist asks the inevitable: “The historical development here presented raises many questions: what caused the change? Is war sufficient to account for such evidently drastic decline, or should some divine agency, like climatic change, be suspected? Were the cities, perhaps, already in decay before the invasions? Was there, as would appear from all the evidence, widespread depopulation in one of the richest regions of the empire?" Ruins such as these could not be explained by the known disasters that had struck the Byzantine world, and hint at what has not been included in written history.

Just as this cycle began, disease took its path toward regaining the wilderness. In 542, the bubonic plague transformed what remained of the East Roman Empire into the medieval Byzantine Empire. The plague was first in Egypt, and then passed through Syria and Asia Minor to Constantinople. Procopius reported that at the peak of its first visit it took 10,000 daily in Constantinople alone, where it remained for four straight months, taking from 5,000 to 10,000 each day. About the same time, Mesopotamia and Iran were also hit. By 558 the plague had swept Europe, Asia, and Africa, bringing agriculture to such a standstill that widespread famine resulted. In Rome the plague subsided at one point (590) after Pope Gregory had received a vision of the blighting Angel sheathing his sword atop the mausoleum of Hadrian, causing it to be renamed Castel Sant’ Angelo.

The plague, along with its attendant famine, would continue at almost full force for the next 60 to 70 years throughout Europe, the Near East and Asia. Through comparative studies of the later, better-documented Black Death (about 1400), it is understood that the large cities lost one third to one half their population by disease alone. In addition to this depopulation of the larger cities, smaller cities, towns and farmlands were totally abandoned to the wilderness.

Plague was only one of the wildlife-renewing forces that would come up against the Byzantine world, that fractured remnant of the previous East Roman Empire. Defeat, stagnation, and missed opportunities are what the military record shows as this cycle begins. Thrace and Illyricum were ravaged by the Huns, Sclaveni, Antae and Bulgars, with Byzantine armies showing only slight opposition. When Rome fell by the Ostrogoths (546) the city’s aqueducts had been cut, the upper class had long since fled, population was reduced from 500,000 to little more than 500, and those few left were starved into submission. Having captured southern Italy and Naples earlier that year, the Ostrogoths’ conquest of Italy had been costly and devastating to Byzantine.

Meanwhile, more than a quarter-million residents of Antioch in Syria lost their lives when an earthquake hit in 526. Italy suffered another two famines (538 and 547) and, like France, was flooded by heavy rains (540). Meanwhile, North African garrisons had been diminished by plague opening the way for the Moors invasion. Constantinople was consumed by fire in 532, and with its reoccupation there came more plague. In the Balkans, Thrace (545), and then Dyrrhachium (548) were plundered by the Slavs. Through it all, labor had gotten so scare, and workers demanded wages so high, that Justinian sought to control them through imposed law.

After mid-century, fortunes improved somewhat on the political plane. The Moors ceased to be a threat by 550, Italy was recovered from the Ostrogoths, and after 554 the land was essentially a province of the Byzantine Empire. Justinian’s laws restored the land to its original owners, but the objective had been accomplished, with much returned to wilderness, especially the farmlands. In 551, the fortress of Petra was recovered from the Persians, though fighting continued until 561.

A major invasion of the Balkans came when the Bulgars and Slavs crossed the Danube. Dividing their force into three columns they hit Thermopylae, the Gallipoli Peninsula near Constantinople, and the suburbs of Constantinople, the capital itself. Byzantine was staggering under the ruinous blows.

By 568 the Gothic Wars, accompanied by famine and disease, had exhausted human exploitation of the Italian countryside. Only seven years after the first Ostrogoth fortress had fallen, the Lombards, who had just destroyed their eastern neighbors, the Gepidae, then invaded Italy. A second Byzantine-Persian war broke out in 572, and a “fortunate accident” in 591 made Byzantine the victor. Later, the lawful successor to the throne requested aid against the rebels who had challenged them, which led Persia, in gratitude, to abandon its frontier cities and claims to Armenia.

Everywhere, natural forces, both human and nonhuman, were gracious to the creatures. Such was the case with the Slavic invasion of the 6th Century, which had reduced Athens to a village huddled on the slopes of the Acropolis. It was then that the drainage system rapidly disintegrated, with the city’s center becoming a reservoir for all the water that ran off the hills, eroding the buildings quickly to ruin. Thereafter, Beyrout was blotted out by an earthquake (551), followed the year after with parts of Greece sinking beneath the waves. Once again Cos, in Greece, consumed by earthquakes in 6 BC and AD 142, was to finally concede to the Earth’s victory in AD 554, never to be rebuilt. Possibly it was this same earthquake that overturned Olympia, as well. Or maybe there was a second one, since floods and landslides covered nearly everything with sand, gravel and mud. Constantinople was buried in a quake (557), and later (560) Africa and Egypt were hit with an earthquake so strong that scores of cities were shattered. Heavy rains brought great floods to Italy (560), and a decade later both France and Italy were to receive the same fate. Two decades passed and Italy was again flooded, with plague following. Dioscurias is still below the rippling waves of the Black Sea from its fate in the 6th Century. In addition, a special study of over 18,000 human remains disclosed no evidence of leprosy until the 6th Century when it appeared in Egypt, France, and Britain. In sum total, regardless of whether there was disease, earth-movements, climate changes, or human conflict, it meant the return of the wilderness.

The 7th Century began with the Slavs and Avars again plundering many areas in the Balkans. Byzantine, now in possession of the western half of Persia and Armenia, would be able to launch a counter-offensive against the Avars and Slavs, reaching the north bank of the Danube. Then came commands that were not welcomed and decreased pay. Finally, orders to set up winter headquarters in enemy territory beyond the Danube provoked a mutiny within the Byzantine army. This cost Emperor Maurice his life, his five sons’ lives, and his throne, plunging the empire into anarchy. A junior officer named Phocas was put in power by the rebelling soldiers, and his reign would bring disaster.

Then Khurso (Khosrow) II, emperor of Persia, invaded the Byzantine Empire in 604 to avenge the death of his benefactor, Maurice. In the period that followed this desperate war, the archeological record shows the twenty destroyed cities of the Byzantine world. It was less than two decades later when Abu Bakr, a Muslim conqueror, successor to Muhammad, attacked both powers at the same time. The Persian Empire fell and Byzantine’s territory would progressively shrink to little more than Constantinople and Asia Minor.

The events of the early 7th Century seem to be saying something about the worldwide character of the forces operating during this epoch. In North America the beginning of the Classic Maya collapse takes place, marked by the burned Teotihuacan. On the other hand, the changes in North America stretched all the way into Alaska. Cities, cultures and kingdoms were dissolving in the Andes and elsewhere in South America. As found written in the Nihongi, Japan had orders from the emperor to sacrifice to the “god of earthquakes.” It was the same time that China’s census readings dropped to one quarter of their previous total and the Sui dynasty ended. In the northern sectors of the Eurasian continent, cultures were migrating and disappearing, and cities were being abandoned. The Persian Empire experienced a social, economic, administrative and military collapse that dissolved the empire at its roots. Byzantine was ripe for Arab conquests, with its quake-destroyed and submerged ruins as just an example of what came before. The unknown “X-group” disappears, the Sudan’s archeological record appears blank, and other cultures throughout the remainder of Africa were made ready for transformation. India was experiencing internal chaos, which made the later Arab conquests relatively effortless. Diseases appeared in many areas around the globe. Climate also changed throughout the world as the 7th Century began. Can anyone doubt that something relatively uniform and global struck the civilized world in a very short time?

Not everything took place in the early 600s, for some, like the city of Constantinople, it was repeated blows over time that lessened the city’s impact on the wilderness. In 532, large parts of the city were overrun by crowds shouting “Nika!” (victory!), setting fires that consumed the city. Plague was eliminating 10,000 residents each day in 542. Later, the city was buried by a quake (557), and earlier Slavic invasions had already devastated the suburbs. From 663 to 668 the Arabs made annual invasions, while devastating Turkey (Anatolia). Bubonic plague struck again for four years, beginning in 732, taking nearly a quarter-million residents. In 740, the city along with most of Turkey and Thrace were hit with widespread havoc as the Earth moved, causing the sea to pull back, and then lash a huge wave upon them. Again the plague hit from 746 to 749, nearly depopulating the city as the disease would spread to Calabria, Greece and Sicily. In spite of all the various forms which the force took for subduing Constantinople, people would refuse to learn, continually rebuilding the city; but, by doing so, they had assured even stronger forces against it in the future.


Elsewhere in Eurasia

Cultural extinction was widespread at the turn of the 7th Century as well; as dramatized by the Antes (Antae). They occupied the forest steppe between the Dnestr and Dnieper Rivers and east of the Dnieper, in present-day Ukraine. The Antes were so wiped clear of the area that numerous treasures were never recovered by them. One such hoard was the Pereshepina Treasure that contained 25 kilograms (55 lbs.) of gold and 50 kilograms (110 lbs.) of silver. No one was capable or able to return, it seems, for even one of these numerous treasures, or possibly, it was because the area had changed so drastically that it was impossible for anyone to know where they lie hidden.

In much of northern Eurasia, like elsewhere around the world, changes seem to cluster around the early 7th Century. The Avars Empire crumbled as new people emerged to occupy an area from the Black Sea to the Balkans. These people, obviously supplanted from elsewhere, included the Bulgars of Kuvrat, Slavs under Samo, and the Serbs and Croats whom Heraclitus permitted to settle in the northwestern Balkans on accepting Christianity. Tali-Baru had been abandoned in the 3rd Century, its castle lay in ruins, and unaware of its lesson, people rebuilt it in the 4th Century only to have it fall by fire. On the north shore of Crimas Lake was Kivtu in Latvan which would not survive even that long. The wilderness, like so many other places, was no longer suffering the exploits of civilization, as with the Byelorussian in the Ukraine, and the Bakmuntino culture in Bashkir, Russia.

Pendzhikent, southeast of today’s modern city, was at its most prosperous when it was suddenly abandoned. Then came the Arab invasion to finish the job. No one knows how Sudagylan, on the right bank of the Kura River by the Boz-dag Ravine, was carbonized by fire. Migrations, discarded settlements, and lost cultures marked the coming of the first half of the 7th Century. A Russian archeologist comments on the scene: “This epoch was marked by important social changes, by the development of feudal relations which replaced the slave-owning system. A new type of town, village and dwelling emerged. The numbers of towns dropped and many of them fell into decay and were abandoned."

This only seems to be more clarified by a sociologist’s perspective: “When there comes the shattering of the matrix of custom by catastrophe, then mores are broken up and scattered right and left. Fluidity is accomplished at a stroke. There comes a sudden chance for permanent social change."

The revival of wilderness came to northern Europe and Asia throughout the cycle. The Ephtalites Kingdom fell under the combined forces of the Turks and Persians in the 560s. Dzhety-Asar, along the lower reaches of the Syr Darya in Kazakhstan, was brought to its ruined condition as the 7th Century drew near.

Cimmericum, a metropolis on the Kerch Pennisula’s west slope of Mount Opuk, was turned to refuse. The Il’men Slavs had inhabited the shores of Il’men Lake, the basins of Volkhov, Lovat’ and Msta Rivers, and the upper regions of Mologa River, but only into the last of the 7th Century. In Transcaucasian and Caucasian Albania, along the Kura and Araks River Basins, there once existed the Jar-Burial culture, but they, too, were blotted out. Uzbekistan’s wilderness would no longer experience the Afrigid culture of Khorezm and the Kauchi culture along the middle course of the Syr Darya and the tributaries of Angren Chirchik and Keles. Everywhere civilization gave way to wild vegetation and animals, achieving the overall objective of renewing wilderness.


India

For India it was a time of confusion and conflict. The Gupta dynasty had been ruling in parts of India and was facing Huna (Huns) invasion ever since Skanda Gupta (455-467). By mid-6th Century the dynasty had come to an end, the kingdom having dwindled to a small size. The reason for this decline, as elsewhere, is undiscovered.

Huna invasion had only challenged the stability of the Gupta Kingdom, causing a possible severe blow by disrupting trade and the resulting loss of money. Nevertheless, northern, and parts of central, India were in the hands of the Huna, and some cultures of northern India were migrating to other areas. Northern India was once more in close contact with central India, causing others to migrate. As a result of the Huna, central Asian people were penetrating into India. The effect was mass shifts of populations, bringing about the abandonment of numerous settlements.

For the kingdoms that arose as inheritors of the Gupta territory, there was the usual history of India, internal conflict. Orissa was conquered by Sasanka, a king of lower Bengal. Sasanka had annexed a substantial part of the Ganges Valley in the early 7th Century. It was there that he came into conflict with the two dynasties of Thanesar in 606, later acquiring Kannauj, and thereafter, a large kingdom. Fighting a major unsuccessful campaign against the Chalukya king of northern Deccan, he had confined Harsa to the northern half of India. He was also unsuccessful in his campaigns to the west against the Valabhi, Nandipuri and Sindh (lower Indus Valley). In contrast, his campaigns to the east met with little resistence, and he acquired Magadha, Vanga and Kongoda (Orissa).

However, after Harsa’s death, the Kannauj Kingdom went into decline until the early 8th Century. Yasovarman then revived it and came into conflict with the Karkota dynasty of the Kashmir Kingdom, which appears to have been defeated. As the Mori Rajputs were defeated, the Rajput dynasty of Guhilla arose, and the Mori Rajputs then disappeared, possibly migrating to the Kotash area. In the midst of the turmoil, the Arabs would penetrate. There, in India, was that usual scene of migrations, lowered populations, and abandoned settlements caused by internal conflict.

The tale of the Deccan highlands is somewhat reflective of the rest of India. Most significant of the Deccan Kingdoms was that of the Chalukyas, reaching its zenith of power during the reign of Pulakesin II (610-642), a contemporary of Harsa. As elsewhere, the early 600s shattered the stability with a civil war that sent Pulakesin in to reconquer lost territories. The momentum carried the campaigns to the south against the Ganges, the Alupas, the Kadambas, and Kannauj Kingdom. In the north it was against the Gurjara, Latas and Malavas that his forces struck. Southern Kosala, Kalinga, Pistapuram, and the Visnukundin Kingdom in the eastern Deccan were easily taken. Pulakesin, undertaking a campaign against the powerful South Indian Kingdom of the Pallavas, began a centuries-long conflict. This Chalukya-Pallava conflict would reflect the centuries of southern and northern discord in the Deccan. Many southern people would attempt to migrate into and through the fertile and trade-oriented east coast; especially with the Arab conquests coming in on the west and north. After 642, and for two centuries following, the Deccan would be divided between local states whose warfare with each other was continuous and inconclusive.


Mass Migrations

In search of new and hopefully safer areas, people fled everywhere. From one end of Europe to the other end of Asia, people were again in motion. The Vikings, too, were making large-scale movements into many northern areas. Even the Society Islands, Easter Island, Southern Cook Islands and New Zealand were discovered for the first time historically. Possibly the volcanic eruption of Rabaul in Papua, New Guinea sent some people to other areas in the southwest Pacific - Or were some of the islands created then? North, Central and South Americas, and also Africa, were engulfed by a wave of migrating people, as well.


Africa

Egypt and northern Africa were not the only parts of Africa touched by this wave of change. Again, around the early 600s, the unknown “X-group” would disappear into further mystery. Having occupied the site of the crumbled Kingdom of Meroe, it lasted only little more than a century, from the previous cycle to this one.

From 575 to 639 the history of Sudan is unknown. No archeological evidence or written materials have survived from that period. The Mandingan Empire broke up so effectively that no cultural level in the Sahara area of the Sudan appeared until the 13th Century. About the same time there was a great decline at Kharga Oasis in North Africa that would last until the 12th Century. Coastal occupation of the Benadair coast in the towns Mogadishu, Merca, and Brava, cultural traditions claim, goes back to the 7th and 8th Centuries. However, if this is true, then they were wiped clean from existence, because the earliest tombs and mosques are from the 12th and 13th Centuries.

The Kingdom of Axum had extended its rule over areas as far as southern Arabia. Its power was broken as control of the Red Sea and ports passed first to the Persians, and then to the Arabs. As a result, all of its principal trade markets were unavailable, causing Axum to pass into obscurity.

Pwaga and Nyamsunga, near Lake Tanganyika, were first used to exploit salt from the Uvina Brine Springs, but would not survive the early 600s. In the Victoria Falls region to the south of the Zambezi River, the Dambwa group would not last either. Gokomere, Chundu Farm, Sioma Mission and other settlements in Zambezi would also pass into obscurity. With Axum the only possible exception, much suggests widespread climatic change, with indications of floods in some places and drought elsewhere.

Drought is suggested by the abandonment of sites with springs, waterfalls, lakes and rivers close by. Such a scene is also suggested by an archeologist’s statement. “The Copperbelt area appears to have been settled by a populous Early Iron Age community whose stream-side villages were generally abandoned after relatively brief occupation."

Around 600 there is evidence of Lake Tanganyika being much lower then at present and that it consisted of two lakes separated by an isthmus. Native legend says that the isthmus was submerged, causing the lakes to join. At the close of this cycle, the Nile would become abnormally low and would remain so until the following cycle (AD 756-1089), in contrast to its earlier flooding that caused the abandonment of Al-Fustat (Cairo).

The Arabs of the region east of southern Palestine insist that, around 600, a terrible and prolonged drought caused the greater part of the nomads to migrate to the African coast near Tunis. It has also been suggested that part of the reason for the Arab conquests was the deteriorating climate. The loss of agriculture along the desert margins of Libya, Syria and Palestine, in this period, has been cited as evidence that rainfall was declining, however, it may be only one facet of the unstable conditions that led to land abandonment.


Climate and Solar Activity

Evidence for climatic change is everywhere. Severe drought also came to the Colorado Plateau between 565 and 614. A humid period beginning about 688 is noted in western North America and the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. In California, bogs were drying up while droughts on plateaus cluster around the early 600s, and Walker Lake would later come out of its dry spell. From about 550, and for 500 years thereafter (until the next cycle), the American southwest would be hit with frequent droughts.100 Records of frosts recorded in tree rings from the White Mountains indicate frost events in 601, 628, and 687, about the same time as major volcanic eruptions. A warming climate encouraged the Norse to voyage to the extreme north of North America and Iceland, indicating the ice cap was much smaller than today.

Asia’s dry period ended, and afterward, a wet period began. China’s droughts and occasional floods of the 6th and 7th Centuries transformed into a more or less uniform raininess in the 8th Century. In addition, the number of severe winters in China went from a minimum to a maximum.

Between 459 and 484 the “Red Wall” was built to keep the Huns out, but at this point in time it was beginning to be submerged under the waves of the Caspian Sea; today it runs are more than eleven kilometers (18 miles) from the shore. There, in the Caspian Sea, one can also see the sunken port of Aboskum, and a number of houses and towns can be seen in their watery abyss in different parts of the basin. It seems the sea stood at least five meters (15 feet) below its present level prior to this cycle, after which its waters rose.

For the Mediterranean as a whole, the prevailing dry climate came to an end with the close of the cycle. However, the eastern Mediterranean had drought between 591 and 640, as indicated by some writings during that time. In Germany the dry climate continued into the mid-11th Century, but this was interrupted with rains that rose lake levels in the 8th Century. Alpine passes were once again opened with heavy traffic for the first time since 1100 BC. The ruins of Olympia were discovered beneath a three-meter (15-foot) accumulation of silt. Could this be evidence of torrential rains washing away topsoil? One expert thinks so.

Still an unsolved mystery is the alluvial (water-carved) deposits found throughout the Mediterranean Basin, temperate Europe, and western Asia. How were they created? Could they be one sign of what so weakened civilizations around 600?

Solar activity and auroral displays bring the solar linkage of FEM into the picture at this time. For example, during the birth of Saint Columba (521-522) a very intense and bright aurora with every color of the rainbow was observed. Chinese writings covering 532 to 550 describe “red lights” and “purple clouds” of what is probably other very strong auroras. These writings add that Chi Wen Hsuan Ti was born in 530, and the aurora was so bright that the light had lit up the bedroom in which he was born so much that it appeared as if it were daytime. A few months later, Halley’s Comet appeared, and for about one and a half years following, “stars fell like rain” (28 August 532). Auroras and “blood rains” were observed in Europe between the years 582 and 587, and for two of those years (583-584) the auroras were so strong that it looked like dawn during the night.

Strong sunspot activity occurred in 567 and 745, particularly, along with a number of other maximums (555, 556, 577, 585, 643, 654, 655, 664, 667, 714, 722). Years for an above-normal number of auroras were 565 to 586, 620, 651 to 682 and 743 to 772. There was a solar maximum in the 6th Century known as the Byzantine Maximum, and a later minimum known as the Dark Age Minimum from 660 to 740. More information may exist, but many sources were lost or are nonexistent, particularly for the 6th Century.



Celestial Disorder Brings A New Sun in AD 550-750


The Vital Vastness -- Volume Two: The Living Cosmos empirically establish that there is a field system throughout the cosmos. Furthermore, the planets magnetosphere's can balloon during solar maximums. For example, Jupiter's magnetosphere enlarged about 25 times between the Voyager mission, and the Galileo mission. According to ancient authors, the planets have exchanged huge lightning-like discharges between each other and the Earth. This can explain the vast fires noted in the writings of the time, as well as the archeological evidence of burnt settlements. Here are some of the mythology and ancient writings that describe these and other events. Again, this only one period, and there are nine others that have similar scenes.


North and Central America

History was regarded by most Mesoamericans - the Olmecs, Mayans, Mixtecs, Toltecs, Aztecs and others - as cyclical. They believed that history literally repeated itself. Disasters or peace would come at regular intervals, and these could in some way be anticipated, or perhaps even forestalled, by intimate knowledge of the regularities of the planets, and other phenomena regarded as supernaturally controlled.

The Mesoamericans were so involved with astronomy that they had produced calendars that predicted the times of planetary alignments, the equinoxes, the solstices, lunar phases and more. An archeoastronomer comments on the ingenuity of producing these calendars: “As many popular accounts have asserted, these long-vanished civilizations formulated an astronomical calendar of unrivaled exactness and precision even by modern standards."

One must ask why an ancient civilization would undertake such an arduous task, with such precision. There is no doubt that it was not for ritual nor religion, as most scholars concede.100 Any ritual that was performed had followed as a result of the events that inspired the calendars. For all intents and purposes, as stated by the Mesoamericans themselves, it was for predicting the next destructive period, the end of a world age in which these astronomical factors played their part. Similar beliefs about the cosmos were shared by the Mexicans, the Hopis, and cultures around the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The Mayan culture knew of the 52-year cycle in astronomy. Every 104 years (two such cycles) they would have a festival, known as the fire festival, when a ceremony called “The Tying-up of Years” extended the cycle by a day, making an extremely accurate solar calendar. They also knew of saros, a period of solar eclipses which recurs in a little more than 19 years. In this period several eclipses occurred. Occasionally, total eclipses took place, which were times of great upheavals in Mayan society when people feared that the Sun would be destroyed. At such times, great sacrifices were organized so that people’s spirits would come to the aid of the armies of the Sun. The knowledge of the Maya was highly advanced, and they even practiced dentistry.

For the Mesoamericans, as well as these other cultures, there was a division of five world ages marked by destruction. Of course, if there were catastrophes that overwhelmed the whole Earth, when the Heavens also became disordered, then there would be a worldwide parallel of its description, and there is. The Mayans indicate that the close of this period was the end of a world age and the beginning of a new Sun. It was the end of the Wind Sun by Hurakan (from which hurricane is derived), bringing a new Sun in AD 751, the very year following this cycle’s end.

The Cogui Indians had parallel beliefs with those of the Mesoamericans, such as emphasis on “dawn” in creation, the multiple creation and destruction of humans and the Universe, and that illness was attributed to sin. They also made careful observation of the solstices, equinoxes and other astronomical sightings in attempting, no doubt, to predict the next cosmic upheaval. Evidently, repeated observations had revealed that these times had triggered events as affirmed by scientific observations in modern times.

It was in the Eighth Century that the great circular kiva began to spread from the Anasazi Subarea of the southwestern United States. A kiva is a circular building that has astronomical markers and sights built into its construction (the kiva will be discussed in a subsequent section on archeoastronomy). Could it have been a cosmic catastrophe that caused this observatory to spread in an attempt at predicting the next cycle?

It was that same century in which the kiva spread that the Mixtec pictorial books emerged. The Mixtec books show a clouded entry at that time which concerns the descent to Earth of some type of emissions discharged by the Sun and Venus. Evidently, these emissions must have been solar eruptions, and planetary thunderbolts.


Near East

The Bundahis was put to writing in the Ninth Century, but was derived from earlier material very possibly encompassing the period here reviewed. This manuscript states:

“The planets, with many demons, dashed against the celestial sphere, and they mixed the constellations; and the whole creation was disfigured as though fire disfigured every place and smoke arose over it. [Up from the Earth came] the evil spirit [that] went toward the luminaries. He stood upon one-third of the inside of the sky, and he sprang, like a snake, out of the sky down to the Earth. He rushed in at noon, [and] the sky was shattered and frightened. Like a fly, he rushed out upon the whole creation, and he injured the world and made it dark at midday as though it were in dark night. And noxious creatures were diffused by him over the Earth, biting and venomous, such as the snake, scorpion, frog and lizard, so that not so much as the point of a needle remained free from noxious creatures.”(Chapter III, Bundahis, pt.1)

Earth-currents and the Earth’s electrical environment (i.e., geoelectricity, telluric currents, etc.) trigger the hatching of various animals, particularly around the vernal equinox or in spring. Solar eruptions are known to intensify earth-currents and offset the Earth’s magnetic field, change the length of day and also trigger the hatching of creatures. The Bundahis sees not “gods” but planets that battle in the confusion and help create a long lasting darkness during the vernal equinox. This darkness may have been neutrons and/or an eclipse. If it was the same event commented upon by the Mesoamericans, that darkness lasted either four days or 25 years. However, this latter period of 25 years seems to be the result of an exaggeration through time, and a four day phenomena is noted in observations of both the Sun and the Earth (see The Vital Vastness --Volume One).

The Muslim holy book, the Holy Quran, explains it this way:

“When the Sun is covered, and when the stars darken, and when the mountains are made to pass away. And when the seas are set on fire. When the Heavens burst asunder, [and those against living things] in the midst of a fierce Blast of Fire. And certainly we have adorned this lower heaven with lamps and we have made these [with destructive weapons] to drive Away the Evil Ones, and have prepared for them the Penalty of the Blazing Fire. So when the stars are made to lose their light, and when the heaven is rent asunder, and when the mountains are carried away as dust,’ Woe on that day to the rejecters. Did We not destroy the former generations?" (65:42; 67:5; 77:8-10,15-16; 81:1-3,6, and 84:1).

The lamps of the lower heaven are evidently the planets while “We” is the union of humans, Nature and God (Allah, the creator and protector of life).

In the oriental chronicles of the Japanese emperors, the Nihongi, we find, in the winter of 684, an unusual event. “At dusk the seven stars drifted together to the north-east and sank. During this month there was a star which shot up in the zenith and proceeded along with the Pleiades until the end of the month, when it disappeared."(XXIX.50).

In Autumn of 692, there is a description of planetary behavior unaccounted for by modern standards. “On this night Mars and Jupiter approached and receded from one another four times in the room of one pace, alternately shining and disappearing.”143; p.490 (XXX.28). It is near the close of this period that the Nihongi ceases to be written after more than twelve centuries of chronicling the Japanese emperors.

In the Shih King, a seventh century Taoist writing, the “Major Odes of the Kingdom” say: “Heaven is now inflicting calamities, and is destroying the state. Disorder grows, and no peace can be secured. Every state is being ruined, everything is reduced to ashes by calamity. Heaven is sending down death and disorder. Compassionate Heaven is arrayed in angry terrors. Heaven is indeed sending down ruin.”113; pp.417-8 (2:12 and 3:2 & 7). Again, the impression gained is that a heaven-sent fire brought ruin to civilization.


A Change in Time

Once again the reckoning of time changed. Scientists studying the long-term or secular changes in the Earth’s rotation note a drastic difference at about AD 700. At the end of the following period, around the close of the thirteenth century, time accelerations changed by a factor of five! A team headed by a scientist who ironically is named Newton, comment: “We are seriously lacking in mechanisms to explain the non-gravitational force." Such a statement in itself can be expected of Unified Theory where non-gravitational forces are at work in the Unified Field and space-time warps are predictable.


Lunar Lights

In a previous section (4.1k) TLP or Transient Lunar Phenomena were discussed. TLP involve lighted displays that typically occurred between the 40o latitudes of the Moon. About 577, Gregory of Tours observed a “light on the Moon.” Usually TLP occur at those times when there is a more active Sun.


Solar Activity, Climate and Comets

Weather and solar activity again show fluctuations. Drought struck the Near East, the Colorado Plateau, California and the Southwest. It was humid in other parts of western North America and Yucatan. Iceland began to receive its ice cover. The Mediterranean had its dry spell end with heavy rains. Europe was dry except during the Eighth Century when a rise in lake levels is noted, indicating greater rainfall. In the Alps, glaciers retreated. Asia had its dry climate end, and wet weather set in. China was experiencing drought with occasional floods and severe winters. Encompassing the period of solar minimum, there was the longest break without winter thunderstorms in China ever recorded (600 to 800; Tang Dynasty)

Strong solar activity and above average auroras mark the Byzantine Maximum of the Sixth Century. The Medieval or Dark Age Minimum would follow from AD 660 to 740 As the minimum ended, the geomagnetic field intensity dropped at about AD 700.151 Just following the minimum, in about AD 750, the geomagnetic field underwent a sharp angular displacement. The solar-terrestrial linkage is again quite apparent.

A total of ninety comets were seen by the naked eye in this period. Records show the number of observations were 40 in China, 19 in Europe, 12 in Japan, 10 in Korea, 5 in Constantinople, 4 in France and England, 3 in Arabia, 2 in the Middle East, and one in each of Italy, Byzantium, Syria and Jerusalem. Again, there were more comets than any period prior to this period.


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