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An Earthquake That Shook the World

Seismicity and Society in the Late Fourth Century CE - Lecturer: Cam Grey

Wednesday, May 06, 2020 |
6:00PM - 7:00PM ET

This is a virtual event.
warden garden aerial view


Virtual Event - Harrison Auditorium - Penn Museum


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A concentration of late fourth- and early fifth-century sources seem to suggest that a massive earthquake shook the eastern Mediterranean in the second half of the fourth century CE, precipitating a tsunami that reached as far as Croatia, Northwestern Greece, Libya, and Egypt. This earthquake is conventionally dated to the morning of July 21, 365 CE. However, this neat picture of a single, universally-destructive event is open to question, for it is difficult to resolve the textual, archaeological, and geological evidence for seismological activity in the second half of the fourth century into a single, coherent picture. This Great Lecture uses that data, instead, to explore late Roman society’s ‘culture of risk’—its strategies for understanding, mitigating, and exploiting the manifold uncertainties of the physical and metaphysical world.

Note: While the Museum is temporarily closed due to public health concerns, the remaining lectures in the Great Catastrophes series will be delivered virtually: enjoy these lectures from the comfort of your own home. If you have registered for the lecture(s), you will receive an email on the Monday before the lecture with a link and instructions on how to connect to the lecture. We are using the BlueJeans platform—you don't have to download anything and will even be able to ask the speaker a question, just as if we were still in the Harrison Auditorium.


Cam Grey, Department of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania

$5 General Admission

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