Climate change and Ancient Rome
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Roman Environment

Tiber Island
Tiber Island

May 2016 - The city of Rome itself has tremendous environmental advantages, which made it easier for Rome to become an important city. Rome is located at the first place that people can easily cross the Tiber river, so it is the natural location of the main north-south road in Italy. The reason you can cross the Tiber at Rome is that there is an island in the river there (this is the same as at Paris).

There are also big salt flats near the city, and because salt was so valuable in the ancient world for preserving meat and fish, selling the salt made Romans rich. Also the riverboats going up and down the Tiber, from east to west and back again, could stop at Rome.

As the Romans expanded their empire, they encountered many different environments. There were deserts, mountains, wetlands, forests, and everything else. The great variety of environments helped the Romans get lots of different food and materials. They could get tin from England, and wood from Germany, and cotton from Egypt, and silver from Spain.

The Romans also had the advantage of a good climate. During most of the time of the Roman Empire, Europe and the Mediterranean were unusually warm, about as warm as they are right now. That weather seems to have been good for Roman farming. The Romans brought Mediterranean crops like wine grapes and olives much further north than they normally grew.

But during the 200s AD, the weather got cooler. The cooler weather forced wine and olive growers to move south. It may even have made it harder to grow wheat and barley, and made it harder to heat houses in the north. This may have helped cause problems for the Romans, with both the Germans and the Sassanians invading them, and many people revolting inside the Empire as well. The fall of Rome in the 400s AD may also be related to this cooler climate, which lasted into the Early Middle Ages, until the 600s AD.

Learn by doing: a Roman mosaic
More about African weather
The Medieval Warming period

Bibliography and further reading about the Mediterranean environment and the Roman Empire:

Roman Economy
Roman Food
Ancient Rome
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 20 August, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT