All You Need to Know About…The Ten Plagues of Egypt

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Back in ancient times, during the reign of Thutmose II, Egypt was struck by ten horrible plagues. In the Book of Exodus, it is said that these plagues were the wrath of the Israelite god through Moses, punishing the Pharaoh and his people for the enslavement of the Israelites until they were set free. Until recently, there has been no way to prove if these famous tragedies are fact or myth. But now, accompanied by a documentary from National Geographic, there is a new study suggesting that the eruption of the volcano Thera was the true cause of the 10 plagues.

Thera erupted nearly 3,500 years ago, and was what geologists believe to be the single-most powerful explosive event ever witnessed. The volcano was so powerful that it sank to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, leaving a large hole in the middle of the island of Santorini. The eruption also destroyed several civilizations, including the city of Akrotiri. But here is how it effected the land of Egypt:

 

Plague 1: Water to Blood

When a volcano erupts, it can alter atmospheric conditions, such as amounts of rainfall. If there was a drought, the waters of the Nile, the Egyptians’ main water source, would slow down and get warmer. These are ideal conditions for toxic algae, such as a species called Burgundy Blood algae, which stains the water red as it dies. Additionally, it is very plausible that volcanic pumice, known for its toxic fumes and brownish-red color, could have seeped into the water and made it look like blood. Either way, the water was unsafe for anyone or anything to drink it.

 

Plague 2: Frogs

With the water now contaminated, the fish and plants began to die. So the frogs, along with other amphibians that don’t solely rely on water, left and came on land. Since they reproduce much faster in times of stress (like during a drought), there would have been quite a bit of frogs “infesting” the land. But because the plants were dying rapidly and the baby tadpoles needed clean water to thrive, the frogs began to die off.

 

Plagues 3 and 4: Gnats and Flies

Without natural predators such as frogs to control their numbers, the bug populations started to increase. They would also have been attracted to the meat of the dead frogs and animals. The drought conditions would have been optimal for the insects’ reproduction, too.

 

Plague 5: Livestock Dying

Insects carry various diseases, causing a large epidemic that would have lead to livestock dying. Not to mention that, because of the lack of fresh water and the insects eating the crops, the animals would have been killed off first to sustain the humans.

 

Plague 6: Boils

The bacteria in the water and/or the constant biting of the insects could have caused this plague.

 

Plagues 7, 8, and 9: Hail, Locusts, and Darkness

Eventually the drought would end, giving way to thunderstorms. These, combined with volcanic ash, often lead to hail. The ash, high humidity, and low pressure in the air would then attract locusts to come in droves. With the sky darkened for days because of these conditions, the Egyptians would definitely feel as though they had been plunged into darkness.

 

Plague 10: Death of the Firstborns

The Egyptian culture championed its firstborns, meaning that they would be given the first and majority of the remaining grain rations. Seeing as the weather and insects had destroyed the latest batch of crops, their grain stores would have been old and contained fungi. That would mean that, unknowingly, the Egyptians poisoned their own children in the hopes of saving them.

 

There is no way to fully prove that Thera’s eruption was the cause of all 10 plagues, or if they are even historically accurate. But if this was indeed the case, then it can be assumed that the explosion of the volcano had major effects on a large scale; to the point where it almost destroyed an entire civilization on another continent and inspired a story that lies at the roots of one of the world’s most popular religions.

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