Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Oh Yersinia. You really did it.

If you've been more than marginally interested in the epidemic called "Black Death" that wrought havoc on the population in the Middle Ages, you may have caught that there was a (sometimes quite heated, I gather) dispute about whether it was the Plague as we know it today, or something entirely else, or a mutation of the Plague, or a combination, or whatever. And I confess I was leaning towards "something else", too, just like a lot of other scholars.

But now they did it. You know, those archaeologists and other scientists? These guys that poke around in old stuff, messing around with our nice familiar concepts of history, dragging home old bones and potsherds and lumps of clay and textile and rusty metals? They did it. They found the DNA of the Bringer of Black Death.

And it's Yersinia Pestis.

Their research is published in an open-access peer reviewed journal (oh, we so need more of those), and you can read the whole article for yourself. Good old Yersinia. Wreaking documented havoc on mankind since 541.

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