History and Archeology of Urban Decline: Rome during the Medieval Climate Anomaly

Anna Gutgarts, Ronnie Ellenblum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we suggest a new analysis of the decline and abandonment of medieval urban landscapes, using as a case study the thoroughly excavated and documented Caelian Hill in Rome during the eleventh century, supported by notions from modern studies of climate change. We provide evidence for the concurrent decline of the urban landscape and the abandonment of waterways, including the aqueduct of Aqua Claudia that functioned since the first-century CE and was last recorded as functioning ca. 1006 CE. We further point to the implications of these processes on changes in the urban fabric in other areas of the city, challenging previous studies which associate its decline with political and economic circumstances culminating in the Norman sack of 1084. We suggest that these processes should be attributed to the effects of the regional climatic disturbances that affected Central-Southern Italy during the medieval climate anomaly (MCA).

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Urban History
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • medieval Rome
  • medieval climate anomaly
  • medieval urban water infrastructures
  • urban decline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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