Kyle Harper

Historian of the Ancient World

Kyle Harper is Professor of Classics and Letters and Provost Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma. He is a historian of the ancient world whose work has spanned economic, environmental, and social history.  He is the author of The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire, which has been translated into twelve languages, and Plagues upon the Earth: Disease and the Course of Human History, which demonstrates how deadly diseases have shaped history—and why they are products of our success as a species (watch his introduction to the book here).

His latest research offers a panoramic look at the history of pandemics, weaving together a grand narrative of global history with insights from cutting-edge genetics to show that the story of disease is entangled with the history of slavery, colonialism, and capitalism. Kyle also tells the story of humanity’s escape from infection—a triumph that makes life as we know it possible, yet destabilizes the environment and fosters new diseases.