In academia, there is generally a tension between the ‘soft sciences’ and the ‘hard sciences’. In truth, the two fields benefit each other more than we would like to admit.
In recent years through Geology, we have been able to trace back and identify exact happenings from the past. Sometimes historians, anthropologists, and archaeologists only have a local story told through oral tradition, a pottery fragment, or even nothing at all to utilize to uncover the past. Being able to join forces with chemists, geologists, and environmentalists have opened up previously closed doors into the world around us and how our ancestors lived in it.
In China, there has long existed a legend of Emperor Yu, and his taming of a great flood that saved the lives of many of his people. After reconstructing a sequence of events along the Yellow River, scientists found evidence of a great flood that might have ben the very one that Yu dealt with. Researchers mapped and dated sediments deposited downstream of a dam when it broke to have been the result of a massive flood. Radio carbon dating of the sediment and bone fragments placed the date within the rang of Emperor Yu, and also coincided with their transition from the Neolithic to Bronze Age in the Yellow River Valley.
Well known to many from The Bible and The Torah is the story of God destroying the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone. Archaeology had been able to locate and accurately date where these cities were most likely located, and anthropologists have been able to determine that skeletons excavated were likely killed because of a massive earthquake. Geologists through experimentation with models have determined that it is entirely possible that a great portion of the city could have slid into the Dead Sea during an earthquake that liquified the ground, turning it into quick sand. The area has also been found to be covered in several inches of ash dated from the same period.
Although not a traditional view of Geology, the study of ice cores has become an ever growing sub section of the field. Ice cores taken from various ancient glaciers have offered insight into the Viking Age. Ice cores can reveal a lot about the global and local environments through micro bubbles of air that become trapped in the ice.During the 8-11th centuries, ice cores have shown that globally speaking there was a higher concentration of salt in the air. This means that the ocean was more active with stronger waves and currents that released more salt into the air through sea spray. These strong tides are likely what helped the Vikings travel to far off places and explore the far corners of the world, making them prevalent and successful. Of course, their excellent trade and battle skills also came in handy.
Thanks so much for reading, and we hope that this humble article inspires you to connect more dots and seek out more connections in the future! Science, and history are both awesome- it’s even better when they work together!