The Tetrad Lunar Eclipses of 162-163 A.D. and 180-181 A.D. and the Years that Follow

The tetrad eclipses of 2014 and 2015 have attracted much attention in the media. Whether Christian or Wiccan, many people take these signs as a portent of something to come. What exactly will come has been the subject of conjecture: economic collapse, civil unrest; famine; plagues; war. Widely overlooked are the tetrad eclipses in A.D. 162, 163 and 180, 181.

1st Tetrad: A.D. 162-163

  • 04-17-162 — Total lunar eclipse, Passover
  • 10-11-162 — Total lunar eclipse, Feast of Tabernacles
  • 04-06-163 — Total lunar eclipse, Passover
  • 09-30-163 — Total lunar eclipse, Feast of Tabernacles

2nd Tetrad: A.D. 180-181 / Shemitah (or Sabbatical) Year

  • 04-27-180 — Total lunar eclipse, Passover
  • 10-21-180 — Total lunar eclipse, Tabernacles
  • 04-17-181 — Total lunar eclipse, Passover
  • 10-10-181 — Total lunar eclipse, Feast of Tabernacles

To note: A.D. 180 was a leap year, which means according to the Jewish calendar the year contained 13 months, with Adar II proceeding Nisan. Because of the extra month Passover was pushed later than usual. The extra month of Adar II appeared in 2014 as well.

One of the total eclipses occurred on Passover, April 17th, 162. In late winter or early spring, the Tiber River flooded. These waters inundated the city. Ancient documents recount that the flood of A.D. 371 submerged the entire city, only the hills and buildings of outstanding height were left untouched.

In the book, Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome, the author Gregory S. Aldrete writes, “In ancient Rome, there are seven times in the primary sources when a Tiber flood is explicitly linked to food shortages: 54 B.C., 23 B.C., 22 B.C., A.D. 5, A.D. 69, A.D. 162, and A.D. 371. . . . The flood that took place in A.D. 162, which was said to be the most destructive of the era, produced a severe food shortage.” [Chapter 4]

With the flood of 162 being the most destructive, it’s logical to assume it would have taken the lives of citizens, especially those of a young age. The actual number of human deaths is unknown, however a significant amount of livestock and other animals are known to have drowned in the waters.

Survivors of the flood would have faced various problems after the waters had receded. Displaced animals, such as rats would have scurried to high ground in swarms; contaminated waters would poise a threat for the spread of infectious diseases like cholera, diphtheria, and typhus, to name a few. The loss of shelter would have left the citizens of Rome exposed to the elements, and there is always the psychological trauma to consider.

Mr. Aldrete states, “[D]elayed effects of a flood could in many cases prove more severe and could result in more deaths than the actual disaster itself. [I]f a building that was flooded did not collapse. . . its structural integrity could have been weakened or fatally compromised.”

So even well-made structure could have been brought down during these floods and if not brought down, they’d be exposed to rot, fungi, erosion, destabilization, and cracks–which would worsen in the winter when water would seep into the gaps and, during freezing, expand, widening existing cracks or producing “a network of new ones”.

Mr. Aldrete states further that, “Some of the sudden and apparently spontaneous collapse of buildings that were so characteristic of ancient Rome may well have been the delayed result of flood damages.” Keep in mind that during these collapses people would have been injured, possibly seriously, if not killed.

“A significant aftereffect of flooding was a shortage of food resulting from disruption of transportation and the spoilage of stored food supplies. In instances when large quantities of stored food were destroyed or new supplies were not readily available, these shortages could even lead to widespread famine and starvation.”

Between 54 B.C. and A.D. 162, Rome’s population had reached its maximum and thus was defenseless to food shortages. Mr. Aldrete explains that, “The size of Rome far outstripped local resources and its enormous populace could be fed only through the importation of food on an enormous scale. The main staple food was wheat, and by the time of the Empire a substantial monthly ration of wheat was being distributed free of charge to the citizens of the city.”

Because Rome received their wheat only during the sailing season (which ran through the summer), Rome had to collect enough wheat to last its citizens through the 265 days when the ships did not come to port along the Tiber. Half a million tons of wheat and other foods arrived seasonally and were kept in granaries at Ostia and Rome. These granaries were situated along the Tiber embankment where quays and lighters (flat-bottomed cargo boats) made it easy for ships to unload their goods.

Wheat must be kept dry, otherwise mold will permeate through the food and destroy the stores.

Ergot fungi–a type of mold–also known as St. Anthony’s Fire, grows mostly on rye, but can also contaminate wheat, barely, and sorghum. When consumed by humans, it can cause vasoconstriction, which can lead to gangrene and thus loss of extremities. Ergot alkaloids can also cause nausea; hallucinations; seizures; irrational behavior; and death. Roman citizens would have been in danger of an Ergot epidemic had they eaten spoiled wheat tainted with mold.

The flood of A.D. 162 would have been devastating, however the actual facts of how the people recovered is sketchy. Lucius Verus, Emperor of Rome, and his adoptive brother Marcus Aurelius–who acted as co-emperor–did step in to supply relief to the citizens. Wheat and corn from untouched granaries were delivered to the disaster region. The emperors did what was in their power to do, but their efforts for the devastated citizens were still powerless against a nation-wide famine that the flood had now created and that war would surely exacerbate.

During the late summer, early autumn of 161, King Vologases IV of Parthia invaded the Kingdom of Armenia–which was under Rome’s political, economical, and military control. Vologases IV expelled the Parthian king and instituted his own. He captured Edessa, Ctesiphon, Seleucia, and ravaged Syria.

The Roman-Parthian War of 161-166 did not just involve the Parthian King and the Roman Empire. Conflicts between various Germanic tribes and nomadic peoples sprung up all along the north/northeastern European border.

The skirmishes between Rome and the Chatti and Chauci, who invaded the provinces of Raetia and Germania Superior in 162, continued sporadically until 165. But those years were only a foreshadow of the Marcomannic Wars of 166-180.

Wikipedia states, “In late 166 or early 167 a force of 6,000 Langobardi (or Lombards) and Lacringi invaded Pannonia.” (A Roman Province near the Danube River) Local forces squashed the invasion without much difficulty.

The Langobardi would later become the Lombards who ruled Italy from 568 to 774, and the Lacringi were allied with the Vandals who were victorious in the “sack of 455”.


Returning to the Roman-Parthian war: By 165 A.D. a plague of possibly smallpox, measles, or the bubonic plague broke out in Rome. The pandemic started in Parthia and quickly spread to the Roman Empire and the Germanic/nomadic tribes over the border. Soldiers contracted the disease during their war campaigns in the east and brought it back to Rome.

Those who contracted the plague suffered from fever, diarrhea, inflammation in the pharynx, rash, and skin eruptions.

The Antonine Plague (also named Plague of Galen who described it) was so severe that Rome had to withdraw from Armenia because of lack of soldiers, and major offensives against the Marcomanni (A Germanic Tribal Confederation) had to be postponed until 169.

Anthony R. Birley in his book Marcus Aurelius: A Biography quotes: “Such great pestilence devastated all Italy that everywhere, estates, fields, and towns were left deserted, without cultivators or inhabitants, and relapsed into ruins and woodland.”

The mortality rate has been estimated at 7-10 percent. 2,000 people died daily, and total deaths are estimated at five million. It’s suggested that Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, both died from the plague; the latter died within a week of contracting the disease. Lucius, however, may have died from a stroke, having suffered one five-six years previously. Another cause of death, though unlikely, is that Marcus murdered him.

The Antonine Plague and the wars didn’t abate until about 180–the date of the next tetrad. Modern scholars believe the plague marked the beginning of Rome’s decline. Anthony Birley believes this to be an exaggeration, though admits “the effects of the plague were startling and severe”, and “One reflection of public feeling at Rome among a population suddenly affected by the plague was hostility towards Christians. . . . It was easy for any who hated them to have them arrested and sentenced to death: the very name was a capital offense.”


Marcus Aurelius Antoninus joint ruled with his brother Lucius in 161. From 169-177 he ruled alone and from 177 to his death in 180 he ruled jointly with his son Commodus.

Marcus was considered the last of the five “good” rulers and an important philosopher of Stoicism (a Hellenistic philosophy which teaches its followers the development of self-control and logic to overcome emotions which can do harm).

Under his reign, Christians suffered violent persecutions, making this period of time known as the fourth persecution. The first persecution of Christians began with Nero (A.D. 64-68), the second Domitian (A.D. 81-96), the third, Trajan (A.D. 112-117)

Churches in Vienne and Lyons in South Gaul were particularly hit. Besides the plague which kindled contentions another possible factor that brought about the persecution was the rise of Montanus. His movement began as early as A.D. 135, but became more prominent during the 150s. The movement was known as the New Prophecy.

Followers of Montanus believed that they were privy to divine revelations through the Holy Spirit. Epiphanius in his writings titled Medicine, quoted Montanus as saying, “Neither angel nor envoy, but I the Lord God the Father have come.”; “I am the Lord God, the Almighty dwelling in man.” and, “After me there would be no prophecy, but the end of the world.”

Followers of this new movement believed Christ would return in 177 in the “New Jerusalem” which they claimed to be located in Pepuza and Tymion in west-central Phrygia. Followers–supposedly being moved by the Holy Spirit–would convulse while babbling incoherently or suddenly experience some kind of possession and speak strange, frenzied things.

So eccentric were the Montanists that observers believed them to be demon-possessed. Phillip Carrington wrote in his book Early Church Vol. 2 “[T]here were sinister rumors abroad about the manner of their deaths [Montanus and his prophetesses]. It was reported that the insane spirit with which they were inspired, had driven Montanus and Maximilla to hang themselves; Themiso had been lifted up into the air by the spirit that possessed him, and had been dashed to the ground and killed. The Anonymous, who reports these rumors, did not really believe them himself; but the prophets were gone, and their memories were darkened by scandalous stories of this sort.”

Followers of Montanus were taught that the best way to die was that of a martyr’s death. This attitude may have been why they were a boisterous group, drawing attention to themselves, and disturbing the masses. Such was the outcry against these “pagans” and their “heresies” that the Roman governors became involved and appeased the multitudes by silencing this new movement.

Another factor to consider is in 166-168 Marcus Aurelius prompted sacrifices throughout the Roman Empire, summoned priests, “ordered extensive purifications, and held Roman religious ceremonies”.  — Marcus Aurelius a Persecutor? by Paul Keresztes

This sudden provocation to appease the gods most likely stemmed from the devastating flood, famine, wars, and plague that were affecting the Roman citizens. Perhaps the astronomers of that day even recognized the eclipses as an omen of pending evils. Since Romans were superstitious in nature and were frequently predicting calamities to occur, it’s not hard to understand their various religious motives and personal apprehension toward Christians when such apocalyptic disasters did occur.

Of course members of the Church of God, such as those in Smyrna and Philadelphia, would not have consented to the pagan rituals of the Romans and with fervency. Their absence at Roman religious festivities, lack of superstitious nature, and their public denouncing of the pagan worship would have infuriated the masses. Christians were seen as atheists for their non-polytheistic views on religion. The Romans, therefore, blamed the Christians for all the troubles of the empire, and likewise the Christians blamed the Romans.

Since Christianity was illegal in Rome during this period–and wouldn’t be legalized until 313 under Constantine the Great–the empire would not have been interested in differentiating one fanatical Christian group (Montanists) with any other groups of Christians. And as a Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius probably would have looked down on the Christians altogether.

There was even a surge of anti-Christian literature; The True Doctrine by Celsus was the most distinguished literature published at the time.

Persecution Under Marcus Aurelius: An Historical Hypothesis (Hermathena Vol. 22) by C.B. Phillips writes, “Others suggest that the influence of his tutor, Diognetus, changed Aurelius’ attitude towards Christianity; while others find the explanation in the Stoic Philosophy of the Emperor, who is supposed to have been embittered by the rivalry of Christian teachers.”

Stoic philosophers at that time held the position as spiritual directors, and so found themselves in competition with the Christians who were found to be of greater moral character, possessed greater inner strength, especially amidst persecution, which Marcus, himself, was awed by. Christians were also much more successful in their endeavors compared to people of other religious denominations.

Despite this, Paul Keresztes in Marcus Aurelius a Persecutor? writes, “It is ironical that the Stoic saint of the Roman Empire should be blamed by modern writers for the extraordinary anti-Christian violence of his rule; it was tragic internal and external circumstances during his rules that made peace for Christians impossible.”

Marcus may not have approved of them, but he tolerated them according to the aforementioned source and was not directly involved in the persecutions, rather the radical anti-Christian governors were. However, in another writing by the same author, Marcus’ tolerant attitude toward Christians seems to be contradicted: “[T]he governor, learning that Attalus [a martyr] was a Roman citizen, put him back in jail with the others about whom he had written to the Emperor. Meanwhile the Emperor’s rescript arrived, ordering that those who confessed Christianity were to be put to death, and those who denied set free.”

Christians were hunted down, robbed of all their wealth, and held on trial ‘til they confessed themselves as Christians. If lucky, they would have been executed outright, but not all Roman authorities were that merciful. The persecutions under Marcus Aurelius reign were tragically violent, leaving spectators in horror at the sights which they saw.

In 176 the senate allowed provinces of the empire to acquire gladiators who were condemned to death for “bargain prices”. Previously gladiator prices had been spiraling out of control, and it appears that Marcus’ goal was to keep the games within economic reason. This edict, however, sparked anti-Christians to molest and torment the Christians. The mobs accused the Christians of murder and other popular crimes until they were arrested and sentenced to death.

“The idea of having cheap gladiators for spectacles probably influenced the non-Christian mob, including priests and possibly local officials, to harass the Christians and consequently have them arrested to be used as gladiators when condemned to death.” (Marcus Aurelius a Persecutor? Paul Keresztes.)

Paul Keresztes writes, “At the beginning of the persecution and in the absence of the governor of the province, the Christians were driven out of the houses, the baths, and the market, and were attacked, abused, dragged about, and stoned by the furious mob. . . .Of all the martyrdoms only those of Maturus, Sanctus, Blandina, and Attalus. . .were sent to the beasts and tortured cruelly in the amphitheatre.” (The Massacre of Lugdunum in 177 A.D.)

The death of Christians included flogging that lacerated and tore the body “even to the inmost veins and deepest sinews, so that their entrails and the most secret parts could be seen moving. The torturers then strewed potsherds, seashells, and even caltrops on the ground, over which they rolled, dragged and pressed the Christians. Thereafter when the Christians could scarcely live or draw breath any longer, their tormentors cast them before wild beasts, to be devoured by them.” — Martyrs Mirror

Christians were roasted in iron chairs; beaten; mistreated; beheaded; executed with the sword; imprisoned; crucified; thrown before wild beasts; and more. In 177, forty-eight Christians were martyred in Lyons, France. However, no such massacre like the one at Lugdunum (Lyons) occurred anytime after the reign of Marcus.
According to the book, Where is the True Church and its Incredible History written by David C. Pack pg. 64 “According to French tradition, Mary, Christ’s mother, lived the rest of her life in Gaul (France). John had been assigned the responsibility to provide for her (John 19:26-27) after Jesus’ death. It is likely John spent the intervening decades in France, since many Israelites lived there.”

Interesting Lyons was the location of the resurgence of the Thyatira Era of the Church of God about a thousand years later.
Continuing on the subject of martyrdom is the controversy over the actual date of Polycarp’s death.

Polycarp, a disciple of John and a leader of the Church of God in Smyrna, is said to have been martyred in A.D. 155. This is the popularly accepted date; however, the chronicle of Eusebius puts Polycarp’s death around A.D. 167/168. Marcus Aurelius a Persecutor? by Paul Keresztes states, “[T]he question whether [Polycarp] suffered under Antoninus Pius or Marcus Aurelius brought a seemingly never-ending controversy. . . . W.H. Waddington presented the idea that Polycarp had been martyred under Antoninus Pius, more precisely in 155 A.D. Some accepted this suggestion unreservedly; others expressed serious doubts. . . . It is very unlikely that the martyrdom of Polycarp took place under Antoninus Pius. Eusebius put this now controversial date both in H.E. and the Chronicon, without any doubt, under the early years of Marcus Aurelius, i.e., between 161 and 168 A.D.”

With the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180, persecution of the Christians ceased with the last documented case on July 17th, 180 under the reign of Marcus’ son and successor Commodus. Thereafter, Christians enjoyed a short reprieve and were able to live in peace until the fifth persecution under Septimius Severus thirteen years later. (193-211)


Commodus had ruled jointly with his father in 177 and became emperor March 17th, 180 upon the death of his father.

Upon ascension, he devalued the currency and instituted the worship of Mithra.

Mithraic worship, though a mystery religion, is known to have its initiates to go through an “ordeal”, typically some type of peril before acceptance.

The following excerpt comes from an article on The New American Webpage, Mithraic Mysteries and the Cult of Empire written by Charles Scaliger, “It appears, from the testimony of Tertullian, that initiates underwent various purification ceremonies, swore oaths of secrecy, and received brands on the hands or forehead betokening their membership in the order. According to M. J. Vermaseren, “on several [ancient] portraits, even on portraits of emperors, these tattoo marks are clearly visible, but on the forehead, in place of the hands. . . . It is possibly Mithraism that the author of the Book of Revelation had in mind in associating the harlot of Babylon with “mystery,” and the Antichrist with the infamous “mark of the beast” (which mark, analogous to the brands inflicted on Mithraic initiates, was to be placed on the right hand or on the forehead).”

Of some of the abominable practices involved in Mithra worship is that of human sacrifices. Commodus has been accused of such practices, as well as “amusing himself by enacting Mithriac initiation ordeals in homicidal form.” – Wikipedia, Mithraic Mysteries.

The highest initiation one can receive in the Mithra cult is the title, pater or father, and is the representation of god in the flesh. The bearer of the title is considered holy and supremely worthy. Judging from Commodus’ behavior near the end of his reign, one might assume that he had achieved this title.

Commodus was not popular and was regarded as savage and cruel. In 185 he depleted Rome’s treasury and seized the property of Roman citizens in order to afford gladiator matches in which he also participated–boasting of 735 victories.

Edward Gibbon’s in his book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. 1, writes, “[Commodus] valued nothing in sovereign power, except the unbounded license of indulging his sensual appetites. His hours were spent in a [harem] of three hundred beautiful women, and as many boys, of every rank, and of every province; and, wherever the arts of seduction proved ineffectual, the brutal lover had recourse to violence.”

Dislike for the emperor might have prompted much of the political upheaval during his reign. His own sister attempted to depose him as did an imperial bodyguard and a former soldier. All three conspirators and their affiliates were sentenced to death.

About 184-185 the plague struck Rome again. Both men and animals died in vast numbers, and famine overwhelmed the city. The famine, however, was man-made.

A man named Cleander had grown up as a slave in the imperial household. As he aged, he obtained honor, authority, wealth, and an ambition to become emperor. Cleander, first wanting to control the people and the army, bought up the grain supply and gave out “a generous distribution of grain at the first sign of a food shortage, anticipating that he would win the support of the people when they were suffering from a scarcity of food.” Herodian of Antioch, History of the Roman Empire Book 1

The people knew of his tactics however and hated him. They attempted to make petitions to Commodus, but Cleander was sure to keep the emperor in the dark. The mobs had assembled at the emperor’s estate in the city, but as soon as they arrived, the imperial cavalry did too. At the order of Cleander, the mob was trampled and butchered by the armed soldiers. Those who survived the initial onslaught were pursued to the gates of the city. Roman citizens who heard of the assault barred their doors, climbed onto their roofs, and “threw downs stones and roofing tiles” onto the cavalry below; the cavalry eventually fled, leaving many dead behind.

“In the steady hail of missiles, their horses stumbled and fell on the round stones, throwing their riders. After many had been killed on both sides, the infantry in the city, who despised the cavalry, came to the aid of the mob.”

No one wished to tell Commodus of the civil war that raged for fear of Cleander. Two of Commodus’ sisters finally stepped forward and pleaded the peoples’ case before him. Their boldness encouraged others to step forward with similar testimonials. Now faced with a fourth attempt on his life and political position, Commodus lost trust in all people and killed without warning. Cleander was beheaded and his head impaled on a stake.

Herodian of Antioch, History of the Roman Empire Book 1 Chapter XIV reads: “In that time of crisis [AD 185] a number of divine portents occurred. Stars remained visible during the day; other stars, extending to an enormous length, seemed to be hanging in the middle of the sky. Abnormal animals were born, strange in shape and deformed of limb. But the worst portent of all, which aggravated the present crisis and disturbed those who employ auguries and omens to predict the future, was this: although no massing of dark clouds and no thunderstorm preceded it, and only a slight earthquake occurred beforehand, either as a result of a lightning bolt at night or a fire which broke out after the earthquake, the temple of Peace, the largest and most beautiful building in the city, was totally destroyed by fire. It was the richest of all the temples, and, because it was a safe place, was adorned with offerings of gold and silver; every man deposited his possessions there. But this fire, in a single night, made paupers of many rich men. All Rome joined in mourning the public loss, and each man lamented his own personal loss.

“After consuming the temple and the entire sacred precinct, the fire swept on to destroy a large part of the city, including its most beautiful buildings. . . . Many other beautiful sections of the city were destroyed in this fire, which continued to burn for days, spreading in all directions. It was not finally extinguished until falling showers put an end to its raging. For this reason, the disaster was held to be of divine origin. . . . Some conjectured from these events that the destruction of the temple of Peace was a prophecy of war. And subsequent events, as we shall relate in the books to follow, confirmed this prophecy by actual events.

“With so many disasters befalling the city in rapid succession, the Roman people no longer looked with favor upon Commodus; they attributed their misfortunes to his illegal murders and the other mistakes he had made in his lifetime. He no longer concealed his activities, nor did he have any desire to keep them secret. What they objected to his doing in private he now had the effrontery to do in public.

“He fell into a state of drunken madness. First, he discarded his family name and issued orders that he was to be called not Commodus, son of Marcus, but Hercules, son of Zeus. Abandoning the Roman and imperial mode of dress, he donned the lion skin, and carried the club of Hercules. He wore purple robes embroidered with gold, making himself an object of ridicule by combining in one set of garments the frailty of a woman and the might of a superman. This was the way he looked in his public appearances. He assigned new names to the months of the year; abolishing the old ones, he called the months after his own list of names and titles, most of which actually referred to Hercules as the manliest of men. He erected statues of himself throughout the city, but opposite the senate house he set up a special statue representing the emperor as an archer poised to shoot, for he wished even his statues to inspire fear of him.”

On December 31st, 192 Commodus’ mistress discovered her name on an execution list. She poisoned him, and then had a champion wrestler strangle him. Commodus died before the new year. After a twelve-year reign of sadism, financial incompetence, and megalomania, Rome was finally free of Commodus. However, civil war erupted again in 193, possibly when his reluctant successor Publius Helvius Pertinax suspended the food program originally implemented by Trajan (53-117) Those who had benefited from Commodus’ luxurious and decadent lifestyle now scorned Pertinax for his frugality.

Pertinax abolished all oppressive taxes implemented by Commodus. But with the treasury low on funds–Commodus having spent the money frivolously and leaving only eight thousand pounds remaining–Pertinax auctioned off imperial belongings such as silver; gold; wardrobes; and slaves to pay off all governmental expenditures. Household expenses were reduced by half. Pertinax believed, “that [it] was better. . .to administer a poor republic with innocence, than to acquire riches by the ways of tyranny and dishonor.” — Edward Gibbons.

No good deed goes unpunished, however. The desire to reform the broken economy, correct the corrupted republic, and restore the strictness of ancient disciple led to Pertinax’s death four months later.

The empire was then auctioned off and given to the highest bidder, Marcus Didius Julianus who offered 300 million sesterces.

Eleven days later Lucius Septimius Severus marched into Rome with his army of 16 legions and usurped the throne. Julianus is put to death two months later.


In 185 a supernova was observed in the skies. Chinese astronomers called it the “guest star”; and the previously quoted Roman literature by Herodian seems to reference the star as well. The supernova was seen in the sky for eight months, making it the first supernova to be documented in human history.

Only 8,000 light-years away, the supernova would have been visible by the naked eye. According to BBC News, “If the infrared light it emits could be seen by our eyes, it would appear to be as large in the sky as the full moon.”

The type of supernova is still under debate. A core-collapse supernova has been suggested, “but observations show evidence of a great deal of iron in the remnant”, which is associated with Type 1A supernovas.

Fascinatingly, Edward Gibbons marks 180 as the beginning of the decline and fall of Rome, and in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision the iron legs of the statue represent the Roman Empire. (Daniel 2:33) Is it a coincidence that the destruction of this star was seen during the probable decline of Rome, and that it had left behind a remnant-shell of iron–symbolic of the Roman Empire, perhaps?


Lake Taupo in New Zealand erupted around A.D. 180. The magnitude of the eruption was a 7 on the volcanic explosivity index (VEI), with 8 being the highest on the scale. The eruption of Yellowstone 640,000 years ago was labeled an 8 and described as apocalyptic; Krakatau was a 6 on the VEI.

As one of the most violent eruptions in the past 5,000 years, the eruption expanded Lake Taupo; the superheated ash and debris cloud covered land up to 50 miles; and the eruption column reached to heights of approximately 31 miles. 99% of erupted material was ash and pumice with only 1% being magma.

Little records exist of the effect the eruption had on the planet, but in 180, Rome and China supposedly could see the ash clouds. Chinese historian Fan Ye and Roman historian Herodian recorded unusual red skies over their empire, other sources state it was only red sunsets. Tsunami deposits unearthed on the coasts of New Zealand suggest the eruption had triggered a local tsunami, but widespread waves cannot be ruled-out either.

To get an idea of the effects of the eruption we’ll have to turn to the most recent VEI-7 eruption–that of Mt. Tambora beginning on April 5th 1815.

The eruption column climbed to heights of 27 miles. Ash particles remained in the stratosphere for months to years, thereafter. “Longitudinal winds spread these fine particles around the globe, creating optical phenomena. Prolonged and brilliantly colored sunsets and twilights were frequently seen in London. . . . The glow of the twilight sky typically appeared orange or red near the horizon and purple or pink above.” — Wikipedia, 1815 Eruption of Mount Tambora

An estimated 49,000 deaths occurred from post-eruption famine and disease. Contaminated drinking water killed thousands of people and animals. The eruption disrupted natural weather patterns and caused temperatures to fall far below normal, with snowfalls appearing in New York and Canada during June and August. Growing season in Massachusetts and New Hampshire was reduced to 80 days. Also, in the spring and summer of 1815 a stratospheric sulfate aerosol veil–or a “dry fog” inundated the United States. This fog reddened and dimmed the sunlight. Rain didn’t disperse the fog nor did any wind.

Monsoons in India destroyed three consecutive harvest; monsoon rains in China caused flooding, displacing affected inhabitants. Below-normal temperatures and heavy rain destroyed crops in Britain and Ireland. Many livestock died during the winter of 1815-1816. Increased food prices hit Germany hard. Throughout all of Europe people rioted and looted. The famine of 1815-1816 is considered the worst in the 19th century.

Not only was climate change and famine a problem, but a new strain of cholera infected people in Bengal and possibly beyond. Typhus became a serious issue for southeast European and Mediterranean countries from 1816-1819.

At the time of the eruption, the world was already suffering from mild climate change (possibly due to a volcanic eruption in 1809), but Mount Tambora seemed to intensify these changes and 1816 became known as the Year Without Summer.

Flashing back to A.D. 180, the Taupo eruption could have caused numerous climate changes for the year or years to follow. Cooler temperatures and longer rainy seasons might have devastated crops worldwide. Shortages of food might have weakened the populations of Rome allowing the plague to make a second appearance in 189 in which it took as many as 2,000 lives a day. Farmers couldn’t harvest their crops because they were too ill or undermanned, which would have exacerbated possible already-existing food shortages.
Much more could be said about the Roman Empire, like counterfeit shops springing up in 193, the devaluing of the Roman currency, the war campaigns of Severus, and the persecution of Christians under his reign; but many of these events are characteristic of the Roman Empire, especially during its decline. Natural disasters, severe famines, plagues, and celestial events do not seem to be prevalent during the 3rd century and so this report ends in the year A.D. 193.

These are the major historical events that followed the tetrads of 162-163 and 180-181. Rebellions and political unrest in China have been omitted from this report; this dissertation focuses primarily on the Roman Empire. As stated before each total eclipse in the aforementioned years either fell on Israelite holy days. Research negates the presence of solar eclipses present on the Sacred New Year and the Feast of Trumpets during both tetrads.

During the 21st century solar eclipses in 2015 fell on the Sacred New Year and the Feast of Trumpets making 2015 perhaps, even more special than ones previous.

Lunar eclipses can only happen on full moons. Typically there are two eclipses a year and each eclipse is about six months apart: Jan/Jul; Feb/Aug; March/Sept; Apr/Oct; May/Nov; Jun/Dec; Jul/Jan; and so on. The Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles are about six months apart, and these holy days always fall on full moons. It’s not outlandish then for eclipses to occur on these holy days.

Various religious and non-religious denomination debate the significance of the 2014-2015 tetrad. In 2,000 years there have been 62 tetrads, with 14 occurring on the Israelite Holy Days. Of the 14, only 2 have fallen perfectly on Shemitah (Sabbatical) years, and those years are A.D. 180-181 and 2014-2015.

Tetrads Occurring on Passover and Feast of Tabernacles from A.D. 00-2600

  • 162-163 / 180-181 / 227-228
  • 795-796 / 813-814 / 842-843 / 860-861 / 878-879
  • 1399-1400 / 1428-1429 / 1493-1494
  • 1949/1950 / 1967/1968 / 2014/2015
  • 2582/2583

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