Pandemics, Climate and the Fall of the Roman Empire with Sarah Yeomans - Context Travel

Pandemics, Climate and the Fall of the Roman Empire with Sarah Yeomans


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At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from Britain to Egypt, from Spain to Iraq. The western Roman Empire lasted almost a thousand years. How and why such a mighty civilization fell has been a preoccupation of historians since at least the 18th century.

But today, as new technology develops that can be applied to the field science of archaeology, we are able to understand more about the past than ever before. Innovations in environmental and biological sciences are giving us tools to add another significant piece to the puzzle that is the “fall of Rome.” Rome’s relationship with the environment, the dynamics of climate change, and the biological consequences of both are now understood to have heavily impacted the great empire, and contributed significantly to its ultimate demise.

Led by an archaeologist and researcher of ancient Roman medicine, Sarah Yeomans, this interactive seminar will explore how the science of the present helps us understand the events of the past, and how climate change, environmental exploitation and epidemic disease contributed to the collapse of one of the world’s greatest civilizations. Designed to inform curiosity and educate, participants will come away with an increased understanding of this intriguing narrative and what parallels there are today between Ancient Rome and modern health issues.

Sarah Yeomans is an archaeologist specializing in the Imperial period of the Roman Empire with a particular emphasis on ancient science and religion. Currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of Southern California, she is adjunct faculty at both St. Mary’s College of Maryland and West Virginia University. A native Californian, Sarah holds a M.A. in Archaeology from the University of Sheffield, England and a M.A. in Art History from the University of Southern California. Her current research involves ancient Roman medicine and the impact of pandemic events on Roman society. She is generally happiest when covered in dirt, roaming archaeological sites somewhere in the Mediterranean region but particularly in Rome, where she lived for six years.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.