Cam Grey

Associate Professor of Classical StudiesUndergraduate Chair

(215) 898-6941

I’m an environmental and social historian, working particularly in the late and post-Roman world (third through seventh centuries CE). I’ve spent a fair bit of time studying rural communities in late antiquity: how they worked, what strategies, institutions and structures they possessed for maintaining equilibrium and managing conflict, and what they did when things went wrong. This has led me to consider the social dynamics of disasters in the period: what factors made particular communities vulnerable or resilient in the face of potentially catastrophic natural hazards, military incursions, famines, or disease, and how those communities might have experienced, responded to, and recovered from such events. These questions are part of a broader exploration of the complex, dialectical relations between human populations and the environments in which they live, which places the project of social history in conversation with environmental studies and landscape archaeology. I'm currently writing a book about everyday experiences and constructions of uncertainty entitled Living With Risk in the Late Roman World.

Office Hours
Fall 2023: Monday 12.30-3.30 Tuesday 10.30-3.30 … or by appointment:

Master of Environmental Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2014)

Ph.D. (Classics), St John's College, Cambridge (2002)

M.Phil. (Ancient History), University of Sydney (1997)

B.A. (Ancient History and Archaeology), University of Auckland (1994)

Research Interests
  • Roman environmental social, economic, agrarian and legal history, particularly in the late antique period
  • Disasters, their causes, impacts, implications, and aftermaths
  • Interactions between human populations and their physical environments
  • Non-elite and marginal populations, especially in rural contexts
  • Legacies of ancient Rome in American cultural, political, and intellectual discourses

Current Excavation:

Roman Peasant Project, Cinigiano, Tuscany (codirected with Kim Bowes, Mariaelena Ghisleni, and Emanuele Vaccaro)

Courses Taught

(Undergraduate) Ancient Rome; "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire?"; Rome and America; "Lies My Ancient History Teacher Taught Me"; Disasters in the Ancient Mediterranean World

(Graduate) Problems in Roman Imperial History; Roman Law; Ancient Economies

Selected Publications

"Risk and Vulnerability on the Campanian Plain: the Vesuvius eruption of AD 472", Journal of Interdisciplinary History 51.1 (2020), 1‑37.

"Climate Change and Agrarian Change Between the Fourth and Sixth Centuries: Questions of Scale, Coincidence, and Causality", in N. Lenski and J. W. Drijvers, eds., Shifting Frontiers 12: The Fifth Century, Edipuglia (2019).

"Landholding and Labour in the Rural Economy", in J. Arnold, S. Bjornlie, and K. Sessa, eds. A Companion to Ostrogothic Italy, Brill (2016).

"Historiography and Biography from Bede to Gerald of Wales", in R. Copeland, ed., The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature, Volume 1—The Middle Ages, Oxford University Press (2016).

"Familiarity, Repetition and Quotidian Movement in Roman Tuscany", with J. Mathieu, A. Arnoldus-Huyzendveld, A. Pattachini and M. Ghisleni, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 28.2 (2015).

"Countryside: the Epistula de Rebus Rusticis Hopkinsensis, Introduction, English Text, Commentary and Afterword", in C. Chin and M. Vidas, eds., Late Ancient Knowing: New Intellectual History, University of California Press (2015).

Constructing Communities in the Late Roman Countryside, Cambridge University Press (2011).

Work in Progress: 

Living with Risk in the Late Roman World

"Sacred Landscapes of Germanus: Movement, Power and Identity"




Member of the Graduate Groups in Ancient History, Classical Studies, AAMW (Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World), Religious Studies, and Early Modern History.

CV (file)