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Cause of the big plague epidemic of Middle Ages identified

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Rowan
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Cause of the big plague epidemic of Middle Ages identified

Post by Rowan » Tue October 19th, 2010, 2:39 pm

The latest tests conducted by anthropologists at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have proven that the bacteria Yersinia pestis was indeed the causative agent behind the "Black Death" that raged across Europe in the Middle Ages. The cause of the epidemic has always remained highly controversial and other pathogens were often named as possible causes, in particular for the northern European regions. Using DNA and protein analyses from skeletons of plague victims, an international team led by the scientists from Mainz has now conclusively shown that Yersinia pestis was responsible for the Black Death in the 14th century and the subsequent epidemics that continued to erupt throughout the European continent for the next 400 years. The tests conducted on genetic material from mass graves in five countries also identified at least two previously unknown types of Yersinia pestis that occurred as pathogens.
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N. Gemini Sasson
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Post by N. Gemini Sasson » Tue October 19th, 2010, 4:37 pm

I find it fascinating that through recent scientific advancements they can determine this hundreds of years later. Biology and history intertwining.

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Post by SonjaMarie » Tue October 19th, 2010, 6:27 pm

I have a book about the Black Death or "Great Death" as it was commonly referred to back when it happened (mid 1300s) on Mount TBR, I've only read 6pgs from it so far as other books clamor to be finished first, but it looks to be an interesting read.

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Post by LoveHistory » Tue October 19th, 2010, 7:03 pm

Interesting, but at the moment my tired brain fails to see much of significance from this find. Particularly if one of the types has now died out. Unless someone's going to go Jurassic Park on it. Then I could see how this would have some tangible ramifications.

Can't decide if I'm cranky or just in need of more caffeine.

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Post by Michy » Tue October 19th, 2010, 7:17 pm

[quote=""SonjaMarie""]I have a book about the Black Death or "Great Death" as it was commonly referred to back when it happened (mid 1300s) on Mount TBR, I've only read 6pgs from it so far as other books clamor to be finished first, but it looks to be an interesting read.

SM[/quote]

One that I recommend is In The Wake of the Plague by Norman Cantor. Interesting NF, and not too thick. :) He postulates that the Black Death was not just the bubonic and pneumonic plagues, but anthrax, also.

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Post by SonjaMarie » Tue October 19th, 2010, 7:19 pm

[quote=""Michy""]One that I recommend is In The Wake of the Plague by Norman Cantor. Interesting NF, and not too thick. :) He postulates that the Black Death was not just the bubonic and pneumonic plagues, but anthrax, also.[/quote]

The book I have is "The Scourging Angel: The Black Death in the British Isles" by Benedict Gummer.

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Post by SonjaMarie » Sun October 24th, 2010, 2:06 am

[quote=""Michy""]One that I recommend is In The Wake of the Plague by Norman Cantor. Interesting NF, and not too thick. :) He postulates that the Black Death was not just the bubonic and pneumonic plagues, but anthrax, also.[/quote]

I looked that up on Amazon and it has 196 reviews and only 2 stars, it's not very well received.

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Post by SGM » Sun October 24th, 2010, 8:46 am

I read Philip Ziegler's The Black Death years ago. It was in its time the definitive account for history students in the UK. But things have moved on since then. Unfortunately, to my mind, PZ then moved on to much more popular histories of royals etc.

Anthrax was long considered another possible cause but DNA testing has now changed so much of what we know about these things.
Last edited by SGM on Sun October 24th, 2010, 8:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Michy » Sun October 24th, 2010, 7:56 pm

[quote=""SonjaMarie""]I looked that up on Amazon and it has 196 reviews and only 2 stars, it's not very well received.

SM[/quote] Perhaps not, but I enjoyed it.

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Post by SonjaMarie » Sun October 24th, 2010, 8:05 pm

[quote=""Michy""]Perhaps not, but I enjoyed it.[/quote]

And that is always the most important thing, if the person reading it enjoys it or not :)

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