RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: Climate change in the IIIrd C.AD
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.

Anonymous

Read in Richardot's book "La fin de l'Armée Romaine":<br>
<br>
"The politico-military crisis of the Empire is also economic and moral. The colder climate triggers a change back from cultivation to pastoralism and forests. In the north-east of Gaul, rural dwellings are considerably reduced, starting from the second half of the IIIrd C.AD: 80 percent of hamlets disappear. The Empire abandons Batavia whose land became uncultivable due to a marine transgression..."<br>
<br>
The translation is mine so the term "marine transgression" may not be right since it's directly translated from french.<br>
It means the sea invaded the lowlands and flooded the whole Rhine delta. I think there was also an epidemic at that time (Plague, Typhus, Cholera?).<br>
Could it be that all these events were a bit overlooked in the analysis of the brutal events archaeologically attested on the Rhine frontier at that time?<br>
Also, on a meteorological point of view: a marine transgression --if that's the right term-- means the sea level rose and it is not usually associated with periods of colder weather when the sea level actually goes down due to the fact that more water is frozen on the ice caps.<br>
Another enigma? <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/[email protected]narmytalk>Antoninus Lucretius</A> <IMG HEIGHT=10 WIDTH=10 SRC="http://lucretius.homestead.com/files/Cesar_triste.jpg" BORDER=0> at: 3/29/04 1:18 pm<br></i>
Important external forces, like environmental change, have always intrigued me, though they have been traditionally ignored by historians since they have been (until very recently, anyway) entirely outside human control, and generally outside human understanding.<br>
<br>
For instance, when studying the Roman era, I’ve always considered the year 165 AD as a true turning point. Beginning with this date, Rome became for the first time subject to forces completely outside of her control. Many of these forces (epidemiological change, demographic change, environmental change) were so interlinked that untangling their various and crucial interrelationships is (to me anyway) impossible. To put it very simply, beginning in 165 AD Rome, for the first time, was forced to face the severe epidemiological consequences a large, densely populated “empireâ€ÂÂ
Antoninus,<br>
<br>
While your translation is correct (it is in fact usually referred to as the 'Dunkirk transgression'), the analysis is a bit different. Yes, sea levels seem to have risen, which we know from amny an abandoned fort and settlement, as well as more rapid coastal erosion. The whole thing did start in the 3rd century, too, but it took a while. It seems that it was cancelled out a bit during the 9th century or thereabouts, known as the 'Flanders regression'.<br>
<br>
The Rhine delta was not flooded. yes, the climate became less favourable, and there was flooding, but not continuously. The sea would be swept inland by worse tides and winds (a bit like our current weather getting wilder and more unpredictable), flooding tidal lands and river valleys ever so often. The net result was the same, during the 4th century most people left to seek better agricultural circumstances.<br>
<br>
However, this was no 'mini ice age', where ice caps would retain so much water that sea levels were actually lowered. This would certainly be reflected in the unwillingness of Aurelian to retain the Rhine frontier in Germania Inferior, which the Gallic emperors indeed had done.<br>
<br>
Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Thanks Vort.<br>
And indeed no mini ice-age. What surprises me with Richardot's description is that he talks about a colder climate, then goes on to describe phenomena associated --at least today-- with a warming up of the climate, greenhouse effect type of thing.<br>
Do we have a weather person out here?<br>
Gregg, I agree with the mid-second C.AD watershed date, but there was also a "plague" in the mid third C.AD and it seems that one is even less documented than the great plague of Marcus Aurelius' times. Do you have anything on that one?<br>
It turns out more and more that the "great invasions" were triggered by a great number of events, not by a single one, namely the westwards progression of the Huns, pushing the Goths and so on.<br>
But the result was the very well known appearance of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Famin, Pestilence and Death.<br>
That one always rides in last, the question is, which one of the three others rode in first on the Rhine frontier, around 250 AD? <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/[email protected]narmytalk>Antoninus Lucretius</A> <IMG HEIGHT=10 WIDTH=10 SRC="http://lucretius.homestead.com/files/Cesar_triste.jpg" BORDER=0> at: 3/30/04 12:56 pm<br></i>
Antoninus,<br>
<br>
Maybe the climate was more wet than cold? I remember reading something a long time ago about the temperature dropping gradually since much earlier times. The article also said that at some point, marginal lands were given up around the 3rd century. This would of course be considered a push-factor for the enemies of Rome.<br>
<br>
However, there are more elements to be considered. The 3rd century also saw the development of many tribes into so-called 'super-tribes' such as the Franks, the Alamanni, the Saxons. The combined power of such groups (who still had no central command or royalty, mind you) would also be a push-factor.<br>
<br>
And last but not least, internal strife within the Roman Empire. This was I think the biggest pull-factor of them all.<br>
When Romans turn bad, there's spoils to be had!<br>
<br>
Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>
Yeah, the first “plagueâ€ÂÂ

Anonymous

Thanks for the interesting posts guys.<br>
Greeg, as an aside: people are always surprised when I tell them that in France, there are more forests now than in the XII th century..<br>
Very interesting medical info about Rome and China being somewhat spared of various contagious diseases for some time.<br>
It is also a reminder that numerous diseases than we now consider benign or not really life threatening were deadly at that time.<br>
And someone should write a history of the climate in western Europe BC 500/AD 500, I think.<br>
Maybe someone did? <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://pub45.ezboard.com/[email protected]narmytalk>Antoninus Lucretius</A> <IMG HEIGHT=10 WIDTH=10 SRC="http://lucretius.homestead.com/files/Cesar_triste.jpg" BORDER=0> at: 3/31/04 12:34 pm<br></i>

Anonymous

dear friends,<br>
<br>
Interesting subject. Robert is right in saying that the change in climate was due to the rising of the sea and the flooding inland. The bogs behind the seadunes were infiltrated with salt water and the fresh water from the rivers could not flow to sea as easily as before. Therefore the western part of Holland became depopulated. The inhabitants either went away or had less decentants.<br>
One of you wrote that the first prove of sickness in the amry did not accur before the Antonine plague. This is not entirely through. I did some research on Roman military medicine and the classical literature is full of examples of mass sickness during campains and in forts from Republican times on. The Antonine plague did not only reach the Danubian border but also affected the troops in Bonn and other Rhine forts as is clearly to be seen in the gravestones. I presume that the troops in all the european continent were affected.<br>
<br>
Arpvar<br>
<br>
<br>
<p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Gregg, why exactly 165 AD? Was that the "Antonine Plague"?<br>
<br>
Whatever, the plague of 165 (?) is very unlikely to have been the first introduction of smallpox to the Rome. Egyptian mummies with smallpox scars have been found dating thousands of years BCE, and given the influence Egypt had with the Mediterranean world, it's almost inevitable that smallpox would have spread widely long before then.<br>
<br>
A mortality rate of 30% *is* colossal though, and does suggest smallpox -- or measles on a virgin population.<br>
<br>
This is my first post in this forum btw -- been lurking for a while.<br>
<br>
regards,<br>
<br>
Rich<br>
<p></p><i></i>
Antoninus,<br>
<br>
You might want to check out the book "Catastrophe" by David Keys. He offers the theory that an enormous volcanic eruption in the mid-6th century caused environmental changes all over the globe, altering the course of human history. His evidence is quite compelling.<br>
<br>
<br>
Arpvar,<br>
<br>
Actually, I don't think I said that the Antonine plague was the first evidence of disease in the Roman army. Disease in Roman history was certainly not unknown, and was probably relatively common, especially in areas where large numbers of people lived close together, like cities or military camps. Livy mentions I believe some eleven cases of serious disease outbreak beginning in 387 BC. But the Antonine Plague initiated a new age of recurring pestilential epidemic that was completely outside Roman experience, resulting in continuous population decay that was to last for 500 years.<br>
<br>
Gregg<br>
<p></p><i></i>