Presentations on the Plague from the European Association of Archaeologists, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2016

I just discovered that most of the presentations from the "Plague in Diachronic and Interdisciplinary Perspective" session of the Europan Association of Archaeologists meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania on 2 September 2016 are now on YouTube.  I think I have collected them all here. Enjoy 3 hours of plague talks! Introduction-Plague in diachronic and Interdisciplinary perspective by... Continue Reading →


Challenging Virgin Soil Epidemic Assumptions 

The depopulation of Native Americans during the 16th to 18th centuries, one result of the 'Columbian Exchange', has been held up as the ultimate example of virgin soil epidemics. The emphasis put on the 'virginity' of the native population, bordering on biological determinism, has absolved the colonial powers of a multitude of sins. Some archaeologists... Continue Reading →

An Anniversary year for Natural Disasters: 1815, 1665, and 1315

There are major natural disasters every year. In the last year alone we have had the major earthquake in Nepal just in the last couple days and a historic epidemic of Ebola. It's too soon to tell how these latest disasters will seen by history and effect historical interpretations. This year there are three natural... Continue Reading →

Setting Affairs in Order During the Plague, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne 1636

Keith Wrightson, Ralph Tailor's Summer: A Scrivener, his City, and the Plague. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011. Newcastle-upon-Tyne is one of those cities that is rarely the focus of a plague study - an industrial town whose prosperity and continued existence was based on its economic impact. Coal was king in seventeenth century... Continue Reading →

Tracking a Live Yersinia pestis Infection with Bioluminescence

The day has finally arrived when an experimental infection can be tracked real-time over the entire course of the infection. Developing a natural history of a rapidly lethal infectious disease has been a challenge because individual variation clouds the progression and individuals can only be studied after death. The traditional method to study these infections... Continue Reading →

Primary Pneumonic Plague Transmission in the USA, 1900-2009

Pneumonic plague is a difficult phenomenon to model. We really don't have much data from the modern medical era. Hinckley et al. (2012) argue that most of the data studied to date have been biased by taking it from well-established epidemics. To better study all transmission conditions, they gathered all of the cases of primary... Continue Reading →

DNA of the Black Death at East Smithfield, London

It seems as though every couple of months a new paper is published reporting Yersinia pestis DNA from ancient remains. This week brought the latest installment from London's East Smithfield Black Death cemetery. This cemetery holds a special place in the scientific investigations of the Black Death because it is so well documented as being... Continue Reading →

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