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Climate Change and the Roman Empire


A video (talk delivered by Michael McCormick) to learn about the connection between history, archaeology, and climate by understanding the relationship between climate change and historical change in Medieval Europe and in the Roman Empire.

Students will learn about reconstruction of mediaeval climate, links between climate and history, climate change and its possible effects on Medieval Europe and the Roman Empire, and the challenges in methods and data for historians and climate scientists.

Use this tool to help your students find answers to:

  1. What are the challenges in establishing the link between climate and historical change for the period before 1000 AD?
  2. Describe the main phases (time periods) of distinct climate in the Roman Empire (as discussed in the video). For each phase, discuss the climate and the evidence used to determine it.
  3. What are the sources of proxy data/evidence that can be used to infer past climate?
  4. How did the Romans build resilience to handle food crises?
About Tool
Tool Name Connecting Roman and Medieval Climate and Historical Change
Discipline Humanities 
Topic(s) in Discipline History, Archeology, Medieval Climate, Roman Empire 
Climate Topic Climate and the Anthroposphere, Climate and Society
Type of tool Video
Grade Level Undergraduate
Location Europe
Language English
Translation      –
Developed by Michael McCormick (Harvard University) 
Hosted at youtube (Talk at Yale University)
Access Online
Computer Skills Basic


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