Growing scientific evidence from modern climate science is loaded with implications for the environmental history of the Roman Empire and its successor societies. The written and archaeological evidence, although richer than commonly realized, is unevenly distributed over time and space. A first synthesis of what the written records and multiple natural archives (multi-proxy data) indicate about climate change and variability across western Eurasia from c. 100 b.c. to 800 a.d. confirms that the Roman Empire rose during a period of stable and favorable climatic conditions, which deteriorated during the Empire's third-century crisis. A second, briefer period of favorable conditions coincided with the Empire's recovery in the fourth century; regional differences in climate conditions parallel the diverging fates of the eastern and western Empires in subsequent centuries. Climate conditions beyond the Empire's boundaries also played an important role by affecting food production in the Nile valley, and by encouraging two major migrations and invasions of pastoral peoples from Central Asia.