Ancient Origins of the Black Death: Bubonic Plague Traced to Central Asian Lake

black death

As per a news from the Los Angeles Times, scientists have traced the origin of a bacterial plague, also called black death that was the core reason behind wiping out at least half of the continent’s population in the 14th century.

The black death is sometimes also referred to bubonic plague that was reported in the early 19th century when the disease had an outbreak. It had spread in such a way that it felt its presence across the entire North Africa and Middle East. Experts say it might have originated in China.

After researchers were able to examine the DNA patterns from bodies found there during 1338-1339 on the basis of some unusual and mysterious deaths on Central Asia, all credits should be given to a historian named Phil Slavin from the University of Stirling of Scotland.

The scientists, while examining the DNA of dead bodies were able to study the genetic fingerprints of the bacterium Yersinia pestis in those who were buried at Lake Issyk Kul, in what is now Kyrgyzstan.

As per an article published in the journal Nature, the researchers explain how the fingerprint of the strain of the bacterium helped them reveal the strain responsible to devastate the ancient trading community at Issyk Kul.

This is what was revealed, “We found that the ancient strains from Kyrgyzstan are positioned exactly at the node of this massive diversification event,” said Maria Spyrou, a researcher on disease history at the University of Tuebingen in Germany and lead author of the report. “In other words, we found the Black Death’s source strain and we even know its exact date” — the year 1338

The black death disease is known to have spread by rats and their fleas was able to make feel its presence on the Sicilian port of Messina on trade ships arrived from Black Sea in 1347.

Although, Sharon DeWitte was not a part of the study, she stated that it looks exciting to have DNA evidence right there to prove that the previous theory was correct. It also proves the disease would have been first emerged in Central Asia.

“This study is important because the very precisely dated burials allow for a direct study of the strain as it existed at the time of the initial emergence of the Black Death,” she said.


Source: The New York Times



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