I've been dipping into Gibbon's Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire and a jolly good read it is, but it's too long and detailed for me. He gives good account of why Rome fell but he leaves uninvestigated other possible causes. We did them at school, the ones I remember. For instance the role played by lead. Plumbum they called it, and so Pb and the plumb line, a length of string with lead at the end to stop it wriggling about.
The Romans made water pipes by flattening a length of lead, rolling it into a tube and closing the joint with.. molten lead. Lead is poisonous and is considered a health risk. Not by the Romans, they even added it to their wine to make it more red. The ruling elite were big wine drinkers, they drank so much they went daft which led to the collapse of The Roman Empire. That’s one theory.
They had a mania for building aqueducts across hundreds of miles of countryside to bring water to towns and cities all over the Empire. It filled their baths, fountains and wash tubs for everyone to use. I was told the Romans built all these aqueducts because they didn’t know water flowed uphill if the supply head was high enough. They teach a load of rubbish at school. Anyway the constructions were so vast in size and number it exhausted their reserves of manpower, money and material. And that is why The Roman Empire collapsed. That's another theory.
But plumbing isn’t just about delivering water it’s about removing it too. The Romans built sewers under their cities. In Rome the main sewer was called the Cloaca Maxima which had its own goddess, Cloacina she was called, Our Lady of the Sewers. It emptied into the Tiber carrying with it the remains of yesterday's fine dining, dead dogs and human beings. Close by the Tiber runs into a tideless sea. In time the stench and disease so overwhelmed the inhabitants it led to the collapse of The Roman Empire. Another theory.
The Romans made their drains from short two piece clay sections that tapered along their length. These are the tiles you see on roofs all over the Mediterranean. In later centuries freak storms became so frequent the roofs blew away whereupon the plebs dug up the drains to put tiles over their heads. Again the plague overwhelmed everyone and that's what led to the collapse of The Roman Empire. Another theory left unconsidered.
Gibbon's history runs from LXXXXVIII AD to MDLXXXX AD. By my calculation the Romans were around for MDCCCLXXXVII years, which is a long time. By then the numbers got so out of hand they simply threw the towel in. That's my theory.
'Slave, wash that!'
'Sorry sir, they've pinched all the lead.'