In broad terms, I am interested in economic and social connectivity in the Roman Empire.
My first book, Money in the Roman Empire: Introducing Economic Theory (Cambridge, under contract), rethinks the way in which economic theory is introduced into the historiography of the Roman monetary system. The entrenched scepticism towards economic theory among historians of the Roman economy has all but vanished and studies using neoclassical and new institutional economics now dominate the field. This paradigm shift has been accompanied, perhaps unintentionally, by the idea that the Roman world was dominated by markets and market-based mentalities. My research argues that 1) Roman money was embedded in a historically unique cultural, social and political matrix, and 2) economic theory, in order to be usefully introduced in the study of the Roman economy, must be divorced from modernizing assumptions and ideologies. Alternative approaches to key theoretical concepts and propositions (rationality, the quantity theory of money, Gresham's Law) are explored through a number of case-studies (the Augustan monetary expansion, the credit crisis of A.D. 33, mid-second century A.D. Egypt, the currency debasement of Septimius Severus and the so-called ‘Third Century Crisis’).
While researching monetary phenomena in the Roman world, I become aware of some interesting connections between several key monetary reforms and the appearance of plagues and changing weather patterns in the Roman Mediterranean. How was the economic connectivity of the Roman world impacted by its ecological context? What might the impact of climatological and epidemiological factors tell historians about the structure of the Roman economy? Some of my intial work on this topic is found in 'The Antonine Plague, Climate Change and Local Violence in Roman Egypt’ (Past & Present). I continue to explore these connections in several forthcoming book chapters. I anticipate completing a monograph on the subject in the not-too-distant future.