Found routes joining the Black Death in Europe

17 Oct

Black DeathA team of scientists working in the name of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, identified strains of plague bacillus (Yersinia pestis), responsible for the plague in Europe in the middle of the XIV century, went down in history as the “Black Death”. Thereby confirming the traditional version that it was bubonic plague, and not any other disease, as suggested by some scholars. The researchers also identified at least two routes of penetration of the disease in Europe: one – in Marseille, the other – through Scandinavia. Article scientists published in the journal PLoS Pathogenes. Key research findings presented in the press release of the University of Mainz.

Scientists studied the remains of 76 persons drawn from the mass graves of victims of the Black Death in England, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. They managed to detect the DNA of bacteria in the dental pulp, as well as the characteristic traces of protein in the bones. Investigating the skeletons from graves in Augsburg, Germany and Italy Parma, scientists have resorted to immunochromatographic analysis (this method is used, such as a rapid test for pregnancy).
It turned out that the plague was not caused by any strain orientalis («the east”), nor medievalis («medieval”), which were traditionally responsible for “Black Death» XIV century. Detected strains were older. One of them, in all likelihood no longer exists, the second, according to preliminary data, similar to strains discovered in recent times in Asia.
Reconstruction of the route of spread across Europe, conducted by scientists suggests that it began in November 1347 from Marseille, a major trading port on the Mediterranean coast of France. Plague arrived there, apparently, on a certain ship from Asia. From the south of France plague spread westward and then north of the country and later in England. Another strain was distributed at the same time, from Norway through Frisia (the area in the north of the Netherlands).
It is believed that the “Black Death” has been brought to Europe from Central Asia, Mongolia and China through Turkey or through the Genoese colony in the Crimea. Have assumed so far that it extends along the same route: from southern Italy, and Marseille – all over France, then in England, Germany, the Netherlands, then – in Norway, Iceland and Russia.
According to estimates of various scholars, a victim of the “Black Death” in the XIV century were from 30 to 60 percent of the population of Western Europe, and in the total world population in 1400 was reduced from about 450 to about 350 million people. Later outbreaks of bubonic plague of varying intensity occur in Europe every generation until the XVIII century. In addition to the demographic impact, “Black Death” had a huge impact on the social and cultural history. Thus, it is in the plague years of 1352-1354 by Giovanni Boccaccio wrote The Decameron, was born at the same allegorical story “Dances of Death” and the image of the “plague doctor”, who became famous thanks to the Venetian carnival masks.

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Posted by on October 17, 2010 in Historical


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