Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

Did a giant impact cause the Dark Ages?

I recently read an article that asteroids or something like that busting up in the Earth's atmosphere, was what caused the term the Dark Ages during the Middle Ages. Is it true?

It is true that there was a steep drop in the population of Europe in the mid-6th century, a timeframe that coincides with what is commonly referred to as "the Dark Ages" (a period of time spanning several centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, from which there are few historical records of events in Europe). Most of this was due to a plague that is widely believed to be an earlier occurence of the Bubonic plague that struck Europe again in the 14th century, but there's also some evidence that there was some global cooling going on at that time. This would have led to lower crop yields, and caused the population to drop further.

One possible cause of temporary global cooling like this is a giant impact from space. But there are other possible causes, and we don't know of any evidence to suggest that it was a giant impact as opposed to something else.

November 2002, Christopher Springob (more by Christopher Springob) (Like this Answer), Matija Cuk (more by Matija Cuk) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

Related questions:

More questions about The Earth: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

This page has been accessed 25354 times since November 21, 2002.
Last modified: July 20, 2004 6:01:48 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)