Roundtable on Campbell’s Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World

by Michelle Ziegler Bruce Campbell. The Great Transition: Climate, Disease, and Society in the Late Medieval World. Cambridge University Press, 2016. When I first learned that Bruce Campbell was working on this book, I wondered if it would be the first grand synthesis of the new paradigm. Although there have been some very good regional... Continue Reading →

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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 →

Ötzi’s Lyme Disease in Context

One of the ancient DNA finds that continues to intrigue me is the discovery of Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease, in Ötzi the 5300-year-old ice mummy from the Italian Alps. As far as I know, this is the only finding of B. burgdorferi in ancient remains of any date.  I discussed the initial report... Continue Reading →

The Case for Louse-Transmitted Plague

by Michelle Ziegler The key to understanding plague -- past, present, and future -- has always been understanding its vector dynamics. By the latest tally, there are 269 known flea species, plus a small collection of ticks and lice, that can be infected with Yersinia pestis. With this many infected parasites, it's not a surprise that... Continue Reading →

Private SNAFU learns about Malaria

Malaria was a major risk for American troops during World War II. The US Army enlisted the help of Theodor Geisil, Dr Seuss, to produce educational booklets and pamphlets (discussed here). They also turned to moving pictures to educate the troops.  Private Snafu was featured in a catalog of 26 SNAFU training films based on... Continue Reading →

The Promiscuous Human Flea

by Michelle Ziegler The human flea seems like a misnomer today. We are not its current primary host, but that doesn't mean that it once wasn't our primary flea.  Pulex irritans was first described by Carl Linnaeus as the "house flea" in 1758 (Krasnov 2012:4) and it is still found in homes in many parts of... Continue Reading →

Dogs as Plague Sentinels and Vectors

I've been a little obsessed with thinking about dogs and the plague lately. Dogs are often overlooked in historic plague discussions because they usually survive plague and dog-specific fleas are not associated with transmitting plague. Yet, dogs can host many of the fleas common among rodents and others that do transmit the plague including the... Continue Reading →

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