Saturday, July 09, 2005

Rocky rubbish

It's a new month, time to actually do a post here, I suppose.

I've just watched Iain Stewart talking rubbish on BBC2 about the fall of Rome. He claims that lead poisoning was a major factor in the fall of Rome. Now, I'm happy to accept that, due to the use of lead vessels in wine-making processes and in water piping, that many elite Romans did suffer from lead poisoning. But presumably this was the case for elite Romans in the Republican period as much as in the Empire, and all of Stewart's examples of mad Romans affected by lead poisoning came from the first century AD. Yet the 'fall' of the empire Stewart was talking about was four hundred years later. In any case, like many other explanations of the fall of the Roman empire, this runs afoul of the fact that the eastern empire, presumably as affected by lead poisoning as the west, doesn't collapse in the fifth century AD.