ILIADE PRODUCTIONS, ARTE FRANCE
German, English, French
TV, DVD, NON-THEATRICAL, INTERNET, VOD
A historical cold case: an investigation led by the best experts demonstrates that a significant temperature drop along with successive deadly diseases undermined the foundations of the Roman Empire.
165 AD. A pandemic strikes the Roman Empire when Marc Aurèle was campaigning against the barbarian armies. At the same time, the climate experienced a sudden cooling: the study of old wood suggests a drop in temperatures of about 3 degrees. In the Roman catacombs, scientists discover collective graves. They thought they were seeing signs of smallpox: it would have decimated 15 to 20% of the population. This double environmental crisis led to a military crisis: for the first time, the inner Empire was hit by barbaric incursions.
The second crisis begins in 260 AD. A new epidemic hits the Empire. It corresponds to the first major defeats of the Roman army. In Abrittus, 25,000 Roman soldiers are killed: archaeologists exhume the remains of this battle. It is the beginning of the 3rd century crisis: invasions, usurpations, monetary crisis bring the Empire to its knees. No sooner has it started to recover that a new climate crisis in Eurasia is coming: scientists find its origin in the Altai Mountains. It pushes the Huns towards the Empire: this is the beginning of the end for the Western Empire.
The final blow took place 150 years later, at the very moment when Justinian launched an ambitious reconquest of the lost territories of the Empire. A series of volcanic eruptions causes a sudden drop in temperatures: scientists estimate it between 3 and 6 degrees. A few years later, an epidemic of bubonic plague hit the Empire: experts of ancient pandemics found it throughout its territory. Archaeologists in Israel are discovering the consequences of it. Abandonment of cities, end of agricultural activities, and interruption of trade circuits: the Empire is drawn into nothingness.