chapter  3
18 Pages

Antonine Pandemic and Justinianic Plague

WithWelford Mark

Prior to the Antonine Pandemic and Justinianic Plague, the Old World crossed a critical geographic or spatial threshold, it moved from a 'large world' to a 'small world'. This represents the latter part of the second historic transition where continental-wide trade connections were established and maintained among the early cultural hearths. The Antonine Pandemic of 165-180 Common Era (CE) and subsequent outbreaks throughout the following century initiated a severe demographic crisis across the entire breadth of the Roman Empire, as mortalities reached 25%, triggering price and wage inflationary shocks. The timing of the Justinianic Plague, just like the medieval Black Death, was impeccable; it hit the Eastern Roman Empire ruled by Justinian the Great toward the end of a period of intense climate instability from ~250–550 CE. The Justinianic Plague seems to have first reached Europe in the summer of 541 CE through Pelusium, Egypt, and all of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa were affected by 542 CE.