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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

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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.

NEW! Come early to join a PhD candidate or collections expert for a pre-lecture Daily Dig object talk at 4:30pm that will highlight the each month's lecture topic, with no registration required. And before each of the Greats Lectures, the Museum Café will serve delicious, daily-prepared hot entrees, soup, and sandwiches. Arrive in the late afternoon to enjoy all the Museum has to offer!


Cam Grey, Department of Classical Studies, University of Pennsylvania

$10 General Admission | $7 Member

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