The source of the Black Death has been discovered.
Interdisciplinary team examined the genomes of historical epidemics
Between the years 1346 and 1353, Europe saw the Black Death, the largest epidemic in recorded history, which was brought on by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Despite the pandemic's profound effects on society and the population, its origins have long been a mystery. Researchers from the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, the University of Tübingen in Germany, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have now obtained and studied ancient Y. pestis genomes that pinpoint the pandemic's origins to Central Asia.A merchant ship carrying commodities from the Black Sea realms of the Golden Horde brought disease to the Mediterranean for the first time in 1347. After then, the illness spread over Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africa, killing up to 60% of people in what is now known as the Black Death. The so-called Second Plague Pandemic, which lasted until the early 19th century, sprang from this first wave and lasted for 500 years.Long-standing controversy surrounds the causes of the Second Plague Pandemic. One of the most well-liked ideas was that China, namely, in East Asia, was the source. Contrarily, the only archeological discoveries that have been made until date are from Central Asia, namely from a region called Kyrgyzstan that is adjacent to Lake Issyk Kul. These discoveries source in China, a country in East Asia. Directly in opposition, the only archaeological discoveries that have been made to date are from Central Asia, namely from the area around Lake Issyk Kul in what is now Kyrgyzstan. These findings demonstrate how a small commercial community was completely destroyed in 1338 and 1339 by an epidemic. In particular, tombstones found during excavations conducted over 140 years ago indicated that people perished during those years as a result of an unidentified pandemic or "pestilence." The significance of the Syriac-inscribed tombstones to Europe's Black Death has been a source of debate among academics ever since their initial discovery.
An multinational team of experts examined ancient DNA from human remains as well as historical and archaeological information from two locations that were discovered to have "pestilence" inscriptions. The team's preliminary reports were highly promising since they showed that Yersinia pestis DNA could be found in people whose tombstones had the year 1338 engraved on them. According to Phil Slavin, one of the study's senior authors and a historian at the University of Sterling in the UK, "We could finally establish that the outbreak stated on the tombstones was indeed brought on by plague."
However, where did this strain originate? Did it originate in this area and spread there or did it develop locally? Since the bacteria thrives in so-called plague reservoirs, which are populations of wild rodents all over the world, plague is not a disease that affects people. Consequently, one of these reservoirs must have provided the ancient Central Asian strain that sparked the pandemic in the Lake Issyk Kul area in 1338–1339. "We discovered that the current strains that are most similar to the old strain are still present in the plague reservoirs in the Tian Shan mountains, which is quite close to where the ancient strain was discovered. This suggests that the progenitor of the Black Death originated in Central Asia "explains Johannes Krause, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's director and the study's lead author Johannes Krause.
The work reveals how examinations of clearly defined archaeological settings and tight interactions between historians, economists, and biologists may explain significant puzzles of our history with great accuracy, namely the causes of the historic Black Death.At finally, the biggest pandemic it was a disaster that left its mark over time.
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