Plagues and the Fall of the Roman Empire


It was very exciting to read this excellent summary of my recent work in The Atlantic. Caroline Wazer does a great job of reporting on my study of one of the three main pandemic events that struck the Roman Empire, a neglected mortality event known as the Plague of Cyprian (ca. AD 249-270). The article also features a recent study by my friend and mentor Michael McCormick on one of the other Roman pandemics, the Justinianic Plague (AD 541). If you’re keeping track, the other Roman pandemic is the Antonine Plague (AD 165), maybe the first major outbreak of smallpox.

The book I’m currently writing focuses on the role of environmental change – especially climate change and infectious disease – in the collapse of an integrated imperial system in the Mediterranean in late antiquity.