The Western Roman Empire collapsed more than 1500 years ago, while the Eastern Roman Empire survived for almost a thousand more years. When the west collapsed, no one questioned why. It was simply the way things were. Than about 500 years ago scholars begin to question just why the west should fail and the east survive. A long list of reasons have been presented, but they are seen as contributors to the fall, and were not the primary cause. The Roman Empire was a military nation that was built by the sword. She was also a nation with many internal conflicts. There is a tendency to examine Roman history from the sword, the turmoil, and the many internal conflicts, but Rome was also an agricultural nation built by the plow and the sickle. When we take a close look at just how agriculture was managed, or in many cases mismanaged, it becomes all to obvious why the Western Roman Empire collapsed so quickly, and why the Eastern Roman Empire endured for a millennium.
James F Morgan lived for some years in Libya, site of the showcase cities of Leptis Magna, Oea, and Sabratha. He was able to travel throughout the Mediterranean region and found himself fascinated with the lands of the old Roman Empire. The land he saw in Libya was a desert wasteland, and yet his associates told him repeatedly that this land was once the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. “How,” he asked, “could this weed strewn desert have nourished the great Roman Empire?” No one could answer him. Years later he began reading, studying, and then writing not only about Libya, but of the great Roman Empire… its glory years, its long decline, and the division into two empires. It took several decades before he had answered his many questions about Libya, about the Romans, and along the way, learned why the Western Empire failed and the Eastern Empire endured for a thousand more years.