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Roman empire and climate change

  1. Dec 6, 2008 #1


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    Did climate change aid the fall of the Roman empire in the eastern Mediterranean between
    100ad and 700ad ?


    I would think there are some ancient written records to check against.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 10, 2008 #2
    I wouldnt be one be to say. Id say they were analhilited by the barbarians. :]
  4. Dec 10, 2008 #3


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    Another view is that they hit geometrical progression.
    As the empire got larger the perimeter that needed guarding increased - but the extra people inside the new territories didn't supply enough manpower/tax revenue to make it worthwhile.
    This was a big problem as it expanded through (current) Germany and eastern Europe and bumped up against more border raiders.
  5. Dec 10, 2008 #4
    Rome expanded through the period we now call the Roman Optimum (among other names) and when that period or cycle began to change to a colder one it not only caused problems for the Romans in food production and the related colder weather disadvantages, it caused problems for the Northern tribes who had increased in the warm climate to a point of suffering want of food as the northern and higher areas under cultivation diminished. This contributed to the unrest, and generally caused warfare as the havenots began to take from the haves.
    This not only started a southern migration but prepared the "barbarians" through warfare for the battles against a nation (Rome) that had gone soft militarily, to the point of hiring out its protection to foreign armies. Some of these same armies were those that brought down the empire.

    Based on this and other evidence, I believe that the answer is; yes, climate changes contributed to not only the rise, but the fall of Rome.
    This is not unique by any streach. History is repleat with examples of climate change causing political and social upheavals.
  6. Dec 10, 2008 #5


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    Earlier Greek colonization of Mediterranean is attributed to the effects of the Iron Age Cold Epoch. While weather is not the only factor, it is always a substantial factor.
  7. Dec 18, 2008 #6
    The Romans practiced a policy of taxation in which they recieved payment from territories and subject lands in the form of grain, and this system lead toward a provision agriculture policy in which the importation of grain was incouraged in order to keep the price low (for war). However, as noted by Adam Smith, the Romans themselves with their fertile farm land chose not to produce grain even though they held a comparitive advantage with growing graining versus other crops. The Romans therefore relied heavily upon taxes to inforce low grain prices.

    I would also take into account over grazing in the central Asian steppes. This destruction of grassland is widely suspected to have caused the great Mongol conquest of the 12th century, and I would not doubt the effect that central Asian Turk migration due to overgrazing could have had on eastern European and Asian Germans. In fact, I would suspect this mismanagement of land to be another leading candidate.
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