Although the dwellers round the Mediterranean had access to a vast range of foods, they all relied for survival on a single staple crop: grain. Most villages and small towns depended almost exclusively on the grain fields in their immediate area for supply. In the vast majority of years these fields grew enough grain to feed the people, usually with a small surplus which could be charred and stored for the future. But if there was a wet summer or if crop disease struck, the food supply failed. Lacking a secondary staple crop, such as rice or potatoes - both of which were unknown in Europe at the time - there was no crop that could thrive in conditions fatal to grain.
The problem was especially bad in cities where large numbers of people were dependent on food imported from the surrounding countryside and were unable to fall back on wild plants or game in times of crisis. In AD362 the entire area around the city of Antioch was struck by drought and the grain crops withered in the fields. Thousands of people starved to death as a result.
from "The Age of the Gladiators. Savagery & Spectable in Ancient Rome" by Rupert Matthews
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- Publisher: Capella; 1st.ed. edition (2003)
- ISBN-10: 1841931853
- ISBN-13: 978-1841931852
- Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.2 x 2.6 cm