Teeth of people buried 700 years ago reveal the origin of plague

WhenIn 1347, the plague first reached the Mediterranean Sea from the territory of the Golden Horde of the Black Sea via commercial vessels carrying goods. The disease then spread to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and a large outbreak known as black death killed up to 60 percent of the population.

This first wave spread further into the pandemic 500 years ago, the so-called second pandemic plague, and continued until the early 19th century.

The origin of this second plague has long been debated. According to El País, one of the most popular theories was that it originated in East Asia, especially China. In contrast, the only archaeological finds available so far are from Central Asia near Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan today. They show that the epidemic devastated the local trading community between 1338 and 1339.

In particular, An archaeological survey conducted almost 140 years ago revealed tombstones, indicating that people died that year due to an unknown epidemic or “plague.” Since their first discovery, tombstones carved in Syriac have been the basis of controversy among scholars over their link to European black death.

In a new study published in Nature and cited in a Spanish newspaper, an international team of researchers has struck a chord with ancient DNA from human bodies such as teeth and historical from two locations, including the “plague” inscription. And analyzed archaeological data. Early results identified the DNA of the individual Yersinia pestis “Yersinia pestis”, whose tombstone was engraved with 1338.

“We were finally able to show that the epidemic mentioned in the tombstone was caused by the plague.” Phil Slavin, one of the lead authors of the study and historian at the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom, said.

So far, researchers have linked the onset of plague to the large-scale diversification of plague strains, an event called the Big Bang of plague diversity. However, the exact date of this event cannot be estimated accurately and is believed to have occurred between the 10th and 14th centuries.

Researchers are now able to stitch together the entire genomes of ancient pests from the Kyrgyzstan site and investigate how they relate to this event.

“We have discovered that an ancient strain from Kyrgyzstan is at the node of this massive diversification event, in other words, we have discovered a strain of plague origin and even know its exact date (1338).”Maria Spyrou, lead author and researcher at the University of Tubingen, says.

Also read: WHO renames monkeypox virus because it is “discriminatory”

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