Bubonic plague, famine, war and flu pandemics have made some periods of human history infamous for death and suffering but one year stands above the rest in terms of misery; 536AD.
According to research from a Harvard professor, it is a prime candidate for the unfortunate accolade of the worst year in the entirety of recorded history.
Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia were plunged into 18 months of solid darkness by a mysterious fog.
It caused snowfall in China, continental-scale crop failure, extreme drought, famine and disease throughout most of the northern hemisphere.
The bleak year was triggered by a cataclysmic Icelandic eruption, scientists say, and was an ominous omen for a bleak century of suffering and death.