Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comGreek NewsGreek Scientist Unlocks Secret of Black Death's Origins

Greek Scientist Unlocks Secret of Black Death’s Origins

black death
A depiction of people burying victims of the Black Death in Tournai by Pierart Dou Tielt in 1353. Credit: Public Domain

A team of scientists headed by a Greek have unlocked the secret of the Black Death’s origins. The pestilence is believed to have killed 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population and one third of the population of the Middle East.

The Black Death is the most fatal pandemic ever recorded, as an estimated 75 to 200 million people died from the plague across Europe, Asia, and North Africa from 1346 to 1353.

The pandemic is linked to the bacterium Yersina pestis, or Y. pestis, which is spread by fleas. The bacterium Y. pestis can cause three types of plague in human beings: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic.

The bubonic version of the plague is the one most often associated with the Black Death. Sufferers become intolerant to light and are feverish, vomit blood, and fatigued. Common symptoms also include headaches, delirium, and pain in limbs. Most notably, it’s also linked to buboes, or swollen lymph nodes, often at the groin and armpits.

For centuries, scientists have posited that the disease’s origins were in China and that the plague spread due to changes in the country’s climate, which in turn led to migrations amongst rodent species that harbored fleas infected with Y. pestis.

Black death linked to central Asian village

Maria Spyrou, a scientist at the University of Tuebingen in Germany, headed a team of researchers who discovered that the Black Death likely first emerged at a site by a lake in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.

Spyrou and her team were alerted to the site by the work of Phil Slavin, a historian from the University of Stirling, Scotland, who posited that a series of deaths recorded in the area in 1338 to 1339 may have been some of the earliest black plague victims.

The team examined the remains of a number of people who were buried under tombstones that mentioned a plague at the site near Lake Issk Kul and found traces of the Y. pestis bacteria in the graves.

According to an article published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, the team found that the Y. pestis bacteria identified at the site is the genetic precursor to the bacteria known as the Black Death that ravaged Europe just a few years later.

“We found that the ancient strains from Kyrgyzstan are positioned exactly at the node of this massive diversification event…In other words, we found the Black Death’s source strain and we even know its exact date (1338),” Spyrou stated.

The first historical record of the plague is from the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea in the year 1347.

Historical records indicate that the Black Death nearly destroyed the army of Jani Beg, the Khan of the Golden Horde, as he was besieging the Genoese port of Kaffa in Crimea at the time.

Rather than admitting defeat due to the plague, Jani Beg launched the infected corpses into the town to infect his enemies.

Due to the highly infectious nature of the plague, residents of the town were quickly infected. As it was a port town, the plague soon spread throughout the world but first to Mediterranean ports in Italy, North Africa, Spain, and Constantinople. From there, the disease soon spread to the rest of Europe.

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts