A volcanic eruption in Alaska triggered climate change that may have hastened the end of the Roman Republic, leading to the rise of the Roman Empire, a new study finds. 

During 43 B.C. and 42 B.C., Europe and North Africa were unusually cold and rainy; temperatures were colder than they’d been in more than 2,500 years. As crops failed and famine and disease took hold, social unrest and political upheaval surged. (It didn’t help that Roman dictator Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C., the year before the cold spell.)

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