SoHP Lecture: Kimberly Bowes on “The Archaeology of Poverty: How poor were Roman peasants? Did they get poorer?”


Thursday, February 15, 2018, 5:30pm to 7:00pm


Tsai Auditorium, CGIS South, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA

We are pleased to announce the next in the SoHP Lecture Series “What’s New in the Fall of the Roman Empire,” co-sponsored by SoHP, Department of the Classics, and the Standing Committee on Archaeology.

On Thursday, February 15th, Kimberly D. Bowes, Assoc. Professor of Classical Studies at UPenn, will speak from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm on “The Archaeology of Poverty: How poor were Roman peasants? Did they get poorer?”.   Models about the collapse of the Roman Empire have often been predicated on the idea of poverty: that the end of Roman domination meant the decline of a certain quality of life, or conversely that the end of Roman oppression spelled new liberties and wealth for the peasantry. These arguments take place against the backdrop of near total ignorance about the physical lives of Roman poor people, particularly its largest constituency, the rural peasantry. This talk presents some findings from the Roman Peasant Project, a archaeological, environmental and historical investigation of Roman peasants in central Italy. It suggests that Italian Roman peasants had far more resources at their disposal than previously supposed, and that far from composing a separate part of the Roman economy, they were both integral to and dependent upon its dramatic cycles of boom and bust. The empire's end thus did bring massive changes, but of a different kind than "impoverishment" or "liberty" would suggest.

The lecture takes place in the Tsai Auditorium, CGIS South, 1737 Cambridge Street in Cambridge and is followed by a public reception.

We hope that you can join us for a fascinating presentation and a very engaging speaker!