Saturday, May 27, 2023

The End of the Romans

As usual, a fascinating PBS Secrets of the Dead documentary "The End of the Romans." It explores the role that climate change played in the collapse of the Roman Empire.  If you have taken my Western Civ class you know that the Roman Climatic Optimum was a very warm period that roughly coincides with the high point of classical civilization.  The cooling that ends it causes central Asian nomads to play bumper cars with other tribes, sending the Goths pleading for Roman protection in the 4th century AD.  

This documentary uses dendochronology and ice cores to demonstrate that the Roman Climatic Optimum was real.  They also examine the role that the two big plagues (one of them bubonic) play in the fall of the Empire and the really unexpected volcanic disasters starting in 536, when an Icelandic volcano made the Sun as bright as the Moon for 18 months.  No, this was not good for crops.  Then there were several other eruptions elsewhere over the next decade that just kept the hits coming.

Anyway, well worth watching on Amazon Prime.  I wonder how many of the self-satisfied PBS watchers saw this and scratched their heads about the climate change.

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