Features Podcast

Environmental History and the Fall of Rome, with Kristina Sessa

We have all heard the truism that we write about the past in a way that reflects our present-day concerns. It is no accident that there has recently been a surge in studies about environmental and climate change in late Antiquity and Early Byzantium. Non-human causes of change – like climate and disease – are being emphasized more than ever before in the Fall of the Roman Empire. How should we examine this scientific data and research? Kristina Sessa joins Byzantium & Friends to discuss this topic. 

Kristina Sessa has authored the article, “‘The New Environmental Fall of Rome: A Methodological Consideration,” in the Journal of Late Antiquity, Vol. 12.1 (2019). She is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University, with her focus on the history of late antique religions and society (ca. 300-700 CE), especially on the intersection between classical Roman culture and early Christianity in the late Roman West. Click here to view her university webpage.


The two books Kristina recommends are:

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo, by Mary Douglas

The Return of Martin Guerre, by Natalie Zemon Davis

Byzantium & Friends is hosted by Anthony Kaldellis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at The Ohio State University. You can follow him on his personal website.

You can listen to more episodes of Byzantium & Friends through Podbean.

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See also: Yersinia pestis and the Plague of Justinian 541–543 AD: a genomic analysis

Top Image: Faqra Roman Ruins – photo by Tiffany / Flickr