You've heard of the Dark Ages? Did you know that they were Dark because there was a long period in which an outbreak of plagues happened? In 426 there was a plague in Rome, probably smallpox. In 444 in England there was a plague, probably of smallpox.
Throughout the next 100 to 300 years major illnesses continued to disrupt civilization. At one point (500-700) people were dying so fast in modern Constantinople that the king paid in gold for bodies to be carted to a huge hole he had dug. He also paid in gold for people to pack the bodies down into the hole. 75,000 people died in one month.
There were three different kinds of plagues. One, seemingly healthy people dropped dead. Two, people's minds went and they were eventually killed from a fever. Three, bodies were ill and the people wasted away.
Well, that is part of the premise for my book. But I need an earlier bout with plagues. Found several.
In 430 BC the fall of Athens is attributed to an outbreak of plague inside the city walls when they are under siege by Sparta.
In 1628 BC a major eruption of volcanoes in the Mediterranean can be heard more than 3000 miles away. The ash is sprayed into the world and falls for more than 90 miles. There was a rash of illnesses following this.
In 1200 BC the Assyrians began to falter as world leaders with all kinds of things going wrong. “Throughout this region, almost all of the leading towns and cities were sacked, burned, and destoryed, most never to be rebuilt…” The Hittites, Phonecians, and other cultures almost disappeared or completely disappeared around this time. “Historians have advanced a number of theories to explain this widespread catastrophe…” Well, I am thinking that it was plague. (The book doesn't even mention that possibility.) I think whole cities were getting sick again and neighbors were wondering when it was going to come to them. Maybe they burnt the cities after the inhabitants were mostly dead and that is why they were never rebuilt. By 1195 BC at least one king was aware that infections are spread by eating, drinking after a sick person and sitting and laying where they were. So people knew that one way to stay well was to get rid of all the stuff they touched.
Also after 1077 BC there was a 160 year period in which chaos reigned in the area of Mesopatamia. It is called the second dark ages of the Assyrians. I am going to assume that there was a plague then. You may think that is a long time for a plague, but if the illness ebbed and flowed across the area, that is certainly one rational explanation for what was going on. In the 400s AD there was an outbreak of what people think was smallpox for 16 years. In the outbreak before that one, 2000 people a day died.
When there was a long history of illnesses like that, much knowledge was lost. We still don't have a scarlet dye that doesn't fade, but the ancient peoples did. Many painting techniques were lost for centuries. Etc.
I need a time when people wrote on scrolls and that was 950 BC. So that's where I'm putting my story. Which is very close to the time when the original spark of inspiration thing happened. So, more authenticity.
For an interesting website go to ancient history about.