Colin Elliott

Associate Chair, Department of History

Associate Professor, Department of History

Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Classical Studies

Department of History

  • 812-855-3929
  • Ballantine Hall 858
    1020 E Kirkwood Ave
    Bloomington, IN47405
  • Office Hours
    M onday
    by appointment
    T uesday
    by appointment
    W ednesday
    by appointment
    Th ursday
    by appointment
    F riday
    by appointment
IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am an economic and social historian with an interest in money, disease and ecology in the ancient Roman world. My first book, Economic Theory and the Roman Monetary Economy (2020, Cambridge University Press), investigates a fundamental methodological question: how does economic theory apply to societies in which there is little institutional and cultural resemblance to modern capitalism? My second book, Pox Romana: The Plague that Shook the Roman World (2024, Princeton), is an integrated environmental, economic and social history of the Antonine plague (A.D. 165-190).

I teach courses on all aspects of Roman History, but I tend to focus on economic, social and environmental history, as well as historical methodology. I am honored to have recieved the David and Cheryl Morley Early Career Award for Outstanding Teaching (2021) and a Trustees Teching Award (2016). I especially enjoy sharing my research with the wider public (see below for latest media appearances and public talks).

Before coming to Indiana University in 2015, I was Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Classics and Ancient History at Washington and Lee University.


Research Interests

  • Money, connectivity and economic integration in the Roman world
  • The Antonine plague and ancient pandemics
  • Environmental history of the Roman Empire
  • Social-scientific approaches to history



Book Book

Recent Articles & Book Chapters

  • 'Profile: Roman Economic and Monetary History'. Classical Review (2023).
  • ‘The Antonine Plague, the Grain Trade and the State’ In R. Arnott & R. Breitwieser (eds.), Disease and the Ancient World. Oxbow (2023).
  • Money, Capital and Inequality in the Age of Augustus’. In Neville Morley (ed.), Capital in Classical Antiquity. Palgrave Studies in Ancient Economies (2022).
  • 'The Ecology of Exchange: The Monetization of Roman Egypt'. American Historical Review (2021).
  • ‘Disease Proxies and the Diagnosis of the Late Antonine Economy’. In K. Verboven (ed.), Complexity Economics: Building a New Approach to Ancient Economic History. Palgrave Studies in Ancient Economies (2020).
  • ‘Coin Debasement, Climate and Contagion in Second-Century Egypt’. In Kevin Butcher (ed.), Debasement: Manipulation of Coin Standards in Pre-Modern Monetary Systems. Oxbow (2020).


PhD in Ancient History. University of Bristol. 2012.
BA in History. University of Oregon. 2005.

Other Activities

Discussion of the Antonine plague and the Pox Romana book project on the Infectious Historians podcast. Listen here.

Interview on NPR's 'The Indicator' from Planet Money on the financial crisis of A.D. 33. Listen here.

Interview on 'Porchlight with Tom Roznowski' on the history of money. Listen here.

Indiana University Arts and Humanities Institute lecture on the emperor Commodus' quarantine during the Antonine plague. Watch here.

Interview on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic for the Bloomington Herald-TimesRead here.