Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire: A Systematic Survey of Subsistence Crises and Epidemics

Famine and Pestilence in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine Empire: A Systematic Survey of Subsistence Crises and Epidemics

Hardback Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Monographs

By (author) Dionysios Ch. Stathakopoulos


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  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Limited
  • Format: Hardback | 422 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 236mm x 31mm | 748g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2004
  • Publication City/Country: Aldershot
  • ISBN 10: 0754630218
  • ISBN 13: 9780754630210
  • Illustrations note: bibliography, index

Product description

An analytical account of the history of subsistence crises and epidemic diseases in Late Antiquity. Based on a catalogue of all such events in the East Roman/Byzantine empire between 284 and 750, it presents an authoritative analysis of the causes, effects and internal mechanisms of these crises and incorporates modern medical and physiological data on epidemics and famines. Its interest is both in the history of medicine and the history of Late Antiquity, especially its social and demographic aspects. Stathakopoulos develops models of crises that apply not only to the society of the late Roman and early Byzantine world, but also to early modern and even contemporary societies in Africa or Asia. This study is therefore both a work of reference for information on particular events (for example, the 6th-century Justinianic plague) and a comprehensive analysis of subsistence crises and epidemics as agents of historical causation. As such, it makes a contribution to the ongoing debate on Late Antiquity, bringing a fresh perspective to comment on the characteristic features that shaped this period and differentiate it from Antiquity and the Middle Ages.

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Table of contents

Introduction - Negotiating with the dead. Typology of crises: The late Roman and early Byzantine empire; A quantitative overview; Subsistence crises - causes, location, duration and range; Social response - Market activity; Response of authorities; Popular reaction; Epidemic diseases - Introduction; Smallpox; Infections of the gastro-intestinal tract; Other infectious diseases; Mass poisonings; The Justinianic plague - the chronology of the plague; The epidemiology of the plague; Modern epidemiology; Byzantine sources; Was the Justinianic plague a pandemic of "true plague"?; Social response; Response of authorities; Popular reaction; Results; Conclusion - History that stands still?; Catalogue of epidemics and famines from 284-750 AD.