Colin Elliott

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 (under contract, 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 both a Trustees Teching Award (2016) and the David and Cheryl Morley Early Career Award for Outstanding Teaching (2021). 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

  • Connectivity and integration in the Roman world.
  • Intersections between ecology and economic history.
  • The meanings and uses of money in the Roman Empire.
  • Social-scientific approaches to history.



  • Economic Theory and the Roman Monetary Economy. Cambridge University Press (2020).
  • Pox Romana: The Antonine Plague and the End of the Roman Peace. Princeton University Press (under contract).

Articles & Book Chapters

  • 'The Ecology of Exchange: The Monetization of Roman Egypt'. American Historical Review (forthcoming).
  • ‘The Antonine Plague, the Grain Trade and the State’ In R. Arnott & R. Breitwieser (eds.), Disease and the Ancient World. Oxbow (forthcoming).
  • ‘Money Supply and Inequality in the Age of Augustus’. In Neville Morley (ed.), Capital in Classical Antiquity. Palgrave Studies in Ancient Economies (under contract).
  • ‘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).
  • ‘The Role of Money in the Economy of Ancient Greece and Rome’. In Battilossi, Cassis & Yago (eds.), Handbook of the History of Money and Currency. Springer (2018).
  • ‘The Antonine Plague, Climate Change and Local Violence in Roman Egypt’. Past & Present (2016).
  • ‘The Crisis of A.D. 33: Past and Present’. Journal of Ancient History (2015).
  • ‘The Acceptance and Value of Roman Silver Coinage in the Second and Third Centuries A.D.’ Numismatic Chronicle (2014).


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

Other Activities

I recently appeared on NPR's 'The Indicator' from Planet Money to discuss the Financial Crisis of A.D. 33. Listen here.

Listen to my appearance on 'Porchlight with Tom Roznowski' here.

Watch a recent lecture I gave for the Indiana University Arts and Humanities Institute on the Antonine plague here.

Read an interview I gave on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic with the Bloomington Herald-Times.