Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Plague Helped Bring Down Roman Empire
LiveScience ^ | May 10, 2013 | Charles Choi

Posted on 05/12/2013 6:14:17 PM PDT by SunkenCiv

...The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, has been linked with at least two of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. One, the Great Plague, which lasted from the 14th to 17th centuries, included the infamous epidemic known as the Black Death, which may have killed nearly two-thirds of Europe in the mid-1300s. Another, the Modern Plague, struck around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning in China in the mid-1800s and spreading to Africa, the Americas, Australia, Europe and other parts of Asia.

Although past studies confirmed this germ was linked with both of these catastrophes, much controversy existed as to whether it also caused the Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries. This pandemic, named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, killed more than 100 million people. Some historians have suggested it contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire.

To help solve this mystery, scientists investigated ancient DNA from the teeth of 19 different sixth-century skeletons from a medieval graveyard in Bavaria, Germany, of people who apparently succumbed to the Justinianic Plague.

They unambiguously found the plague bacterium Y. pestis there...

The researchers said these findings confirm that the Justinianic Plague crossed the Alps, killing people in what is now Bavaria. Analysis of the DNA suggests that much like the later two pandemics of plague, this first pandemic originated in Asia...

The researchers now hope to reconstruct the whole genome sequence of the plague strain in these ancient teeth to learn more about the disease, Scholz said.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.discovery.com ...


TOPICS: History; Science; Travel
KEYWORDS: 536ad; blackdeath; blackplague; bubonicplague; godsgravesglyphs; helixmakemineadouble; justinian; outbreaks; plagues; putlichealth; romanempire; yersiniapestis
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-88 next last

New evidence suggests the Black Death bacterium caused the Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries. The pandemic, named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (shown here), killed more than 100 million people.

New evidence suggests the Black Death bacterium caused the Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries. The pandemic, named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (shown here), killed more than 100 million people.

1 posted on 05/12/2013 6:14:17 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: NYer; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ..

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


2 posted on 05/12/2013 6:15:16 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Travis McGee

YP ing.


3 posted on 05/12/2013 6:18:47 PM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

The answer to the problem of disease? Rife Machines.
Don’t know what that is? Google it!


4 posted on 05/12/2013 6:20:37 PM PDT by chicagolady (Mexican Elite say: EXPORT Poverty Let the American Taxpayer foot the bill !)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv
The US already has its plague.

...They're called liberals.

5 posted on 05/12/2013 6:30:27 PM PDT by mountn man (The Pleasure You Get From Life Is Equal To The Attitude You Put Into It)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mountn man
The US already has its plague. ...They're called liberals.

And the civilized world has a plague - it is called Islam.

6 posted on 05/12/2013 6:33:05 PM PDT by FatherofFive (Islam is evil and must be eradicate)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

I never liked that Justinian guy. He had shifty eyes.


7 posted on 05/12/2013 6:36:44 PM PDT by REDWOOD99 ("Everyone should pay taxes. Everyone should pay the same rate.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Informative read. Thanks for posting.


8 posted on 05/12/2013 6:38:08 PM PDT by Ciexyz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

And like AIDS , was is spread through blood as a result of using the sex organs unnaturally?


9 posted on 05/12/2013 6:38:33 PM PDT by NoLibZone (None here can be puzzled by why Jews walked into the cars so quietly- we are walking up the planks.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

So, the plague helped bring down the Roman Empire. I guess that means that we don’t stand a chance against the Obamanus Pelosium bacterium.


10 posted on 05/12/2013 6:40:02 PM PDT by centurion316
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

There was an earlier plague in Roman history in the 160s—Lucius Verus, co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, campaigned against the Parthians (161-165) and his soldiers picked up the plague in Mesopotamia, bringing it back with them.


11 posted on 05/12/2013 6:45:31 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: FReepers; Patriots






FReepers post articles 24/7 to keep all of us informed!

And, It takes ALL of Us to Keep FR on the Air!

PLEASE MAKE YOUR DONATION TODAY/TONIGHT!

12 posted on 05/12/2013 6:46:30 PM PDT by onyx (Please Support Free Republic - Donate Monthly! If you want on Sarah Palin's Ping List, Let Me know!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Genghis Khan brought it from the East over to Turkey and from there it went to Europe.


13 posted on 05/12/2013 6:47:03 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine (I’m not a Republican, I’m a conservative! Pubbies haven't been conservative since before T.R.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: NoLibZone

No. It’s spread by the bite of an infected rat flea.

Only was I can see that sex would be involved is if you were attempting an unnatural act on a rat.


14 posted on 05/12/2013 6:49:32 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: NoLibZone

The Black Plague was (and is) spread through insect bites and through infected exhaled vapor.


15 posted on 05/12/2013 6:49:42 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv
Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries. This pandemic... Some historians have suggested it contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire.

Ummmm, the Roman Empire ended in 479 and was well on it's way out, long before Justinian

That's like saying the 1918 Spanish flu help win the American Revolution

16 posted on 05/12/2013 6:51:24 PM PDT by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus

The Antonine Plague is believed to have been smallpox and/or measles.


17 posted on 05/12/2013 6:52:00 PM PDT by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: REDWOOD99

He married a hooker, carried out the Nika riots massacre, managed to rejoin Italy to the Roman Empire (nowadays the eastern RE is called Byzantine), constructed the (first version of the) great domed church in Constantinople. The later version still stands (the dome collapsed a couple of times).


18 posted on 05/12/2013 6:53:41 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: NoLibZone

???


19 posted on 05/12/2013 6:54:20 PM PDT by stuartcr ("I have habits that are older than the people telling me they're bad for me.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Ciexyz
Informative read. Thanks for posting.

I second that.

20 posted on 05/12/2013 6:55:31 PM PDT by Standing Wolf
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan
Only way I can see that sex would be involved is if you were attempting an unnatural act on a rat.

Stop following my weekend activities, huh? It was one day with a democrat wench...

21 posted on 05/12/2013 6:55:50 PM PDT by IrishPennant (All warfare is based on deception.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: qam1

The Roman Empire endured in the east until the Turks took Constantinople.


22 posted on 05/12/2013 6:56:01 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Thucydides in his “History of the Peloponnesian War”, described the plague which really was what defeated Athens. He should have known as he survived it.

He described it in great detail and it does not match any known disease.


23 posted on 05/12/2013 6:57:46 PM PDT by yarddog (Truth, Justice, and what was once the American Way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus; Jack Hydrazine; Sherman Logan

Thanks all — there was also widespread disease during other major expansions of the Empire, including Julius Caesar’s conquest of Gaul. These were probably all different diseases. Some of the ancient epidemics don’t match the description of known diseases and could easily be something that died out completely, for whatever reason.


24 posted on 05/12/2013 6:58:22 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Ciexyz

Thanks Ciexyz.


25 posted on 05/12/2013 6:58:33 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Standing Wolf

Thanks Standing Wolf.


26 posted on 05/12/2013 6:59:33 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: yarddog

Best match for the Athenian plague is Typhus.


27 posted on 05/12/2013 7:01:22 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (Romney would have been worse, if you're a dumb ass.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 23 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Yes, they examined some bodies from a graveyard of victims of the ancient plague in Athens and said they found Typhus bacteria.

Still it does not match Thucydides description very well.


28 posted on 05/12/2013 7:08:12 PM PDT by yarddog (Truth, Justice, and what was once the American Way.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv
Most of the big plagues begin in the rainy period after a Great Drought. That's when the grass comes back, the animals that eat grass thrive and multiply, and the bacteria or virus they might carry gets spread around.

A hanta virus plague was well underway in the Americas when the first Conquistidores visited Peru. They wrote about it. Many of them also died from it. There was a later plague on the US East Coast that had a 95% death rate in the winter of 1646/47 ~ and again in 1647/48. White folks gained the upper hand in the territory after that one simply because they could import more white folks. The Indians were eventually reduced to becoming game hunters in the new economy.

The Justinian thing has always been dismissed as the cause of the destruction of Western and Northern Europe ~ but yet if that plague also arrived on the heels of a wet spell after a lengthy drought, quite possibly we should blame the drought and its cause. That's the event(s) of 535 AD ~ which may have involved a large comet or asteroid passing close to Earth, or a gigantic volcano eruption, or both, or a bunch of 'em!

If the black death was let loose in Europe then the death rate was probably as high as we can imagine.

Cystic Fibrosis researchers have identified more than 1,000 different CF gene mutations ~ 1,000! If we have but one such mutation each time whatever it is CF protects us against, that means that cause keeps coming back and attacking Europeans! (and perhaps others ~ estimates for CF in India are roughly the same)

The CF theory is that the CF mutation(s) protect people from the black death in the same way Sickle Cell disease protects subsaharan Africans from malaria!

It's an autosomal recessive, so you have to have two copies of a mutated CF gene to develop the symptoms. If you have only one copy, you are safe from black death. If you have no copies you are not safe from black death.

The current theory is that when the black death hit Europe in the Middle Ages the death rate was 100% among people without a mutated CF gene! They all died. The plague didn't mutate since it was the same old plague that'd swept through Europe ~ literally a rat infested Europe ~ time after time for thousands of years. The observation of different death rates merely marked the difference in time since the last plague swept through an area. The further North you'd go, the more people had the mutated CF genes from more recent plagues, so they'd have a lower death rate. In the South where people had a longer time span between plagues, fewer had the mutated CF gene so more of them died.

You can also see an incentive for the Mongols to give up herding animals on the vast grasslands of Mongolia and relocate to far more healthy China! They would have done that hundreds of times before. BTW, the North/South migrations of the Turcic speaking people of the Steppes would also be coordinated in time with the Great Droughts, not just the arrival of the plague. Drought arrives; animals starve; people go South.

The black death is also present in the Americas but historical records suggest that hanta is the greater threat here.

Fortunately for all of us the human reproductive rate is sufficient to keep our numbers up ahead of the worst the plagues can do to us.

29 posted on 05/12/2013 7:12:34 PM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: qam1
Justinian was the emperor of the Byzantine form of the Roman Empire. He restored much of its former territory and inaugurated a period of great prosperity and influence.
30 posted on 05/12/2013 7:16:04 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus
kinda wonder about the speed of the spread. I suspect it's not guys bringing it back from a great distance, but simply the climate improves in a broad area after a drought; the grass grows; the animal vector thrives; surges out beyond its normal holes in the ground, and infects humans ~ through the mechanism of the flea!

The animals were there all along during a moderate climate, but they weren't doing well so they didn't get to spread the disease.

People would look around for a cause and notice that a returning army, still living outside, came down with the plague before townsmen.

31 posted on 05/12/2013 7:16:22 PM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: qam1

“Ummmm, the Roman Empire ended in 479 and was well on it’s way out, long before Justinian...”

The western empire ended in the late 5th century, but the Byzantine Empire (based in Constantinople) lasted another 1,000 years. Based on this quote, “Some historians have suggested it contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire”, it’s not clear if the article is addressing the western empire (Rome) at all.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire


32 posted on 05/12/2013 7:27:52 PM PDT by Stingray (Stand for the truth or you'll fall for anything.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah

“Fortunately for all of us the human reproductive rate is sufficient to keep our numbers up ahead of the worst the plagues can do to us.”

That and disease plagues that kill their hosts quickly tend to burn out faster than diseases that incubate more slowly and thus have more time to spread from host to host. Ebola outbreaks, for example, are generally short-lived.


33 posted on 05/12/2013 7:34:59 PM PDT by Stingray (Stand for the truth or you'll fall for anything.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: hinckley buzzard
Justinian regained Italy, North Africa, and a small part of Spain. Whether it was worth the treasure expended is debatable. North Africa probably was since it was regained quickly, but Italy was ruined by a long drawn-out war. Bits of Italy remained under the emperor in Constantinople until 1071, and one of the 7th-century emperors died in Syracuse.

That Theodora was a courtesan in her earlier career could be a fabrication of her enemies (who were numerous). Procopius' Secret History is a great read even if it isn't altogether reliable. Think of Justinian and Theodora as Bill and Hillary, but with a lot more Arkancides.

34 posted on 05/12/2013 7:41:02 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: qam1

I think it was 476. My in-laws ancesters went in 478 and everyone was speaking German.


35 posted on 05/12/2013 7:41:18 PM PDT by morphing libertarian
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah
through the mechanism of the flea!

The fleas needed a host - the rat. Why so many rats?

(a) lousy medieval hygienic practices like allowing garbage and sewage to run open in the streets (a similar thing happens today in South China, where viruses like SARS originate);

(b) persecution of cats? In medieval times these born-rat-killers were still seen as "agents of the devil"

??


36 posted on 05/12/2013 7:47:34 PM PDT by canuck_conservative
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: canuck_conservative
With over 1,000 different CF gene mutations around, there must have been thousands of plagues ~ with most of them occurring during the last period of maximum glaciation!

Remember, everything on earth poops ~ so that's always around, as are rotten onions!

37 posted on 05/12/2013 7:49:35 PM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 36 | View Replies]

To: qam1

You seem to be well educated, so maybe you can clear up some miss information for me. I thought the general thought the Roman Empire continued for much longer, but through the Catholic Church. The control of other countries that is. Perhaps you could endulge. thanks.


38 posted on 05/12/2013 8:01:19 PM PDT by juma (What i s the real answer ? Does anyone Know ?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: hinckley buzzard
Justinian was the emperor of the Byzantine form of the Roman Empire. He restored much of its former territory and inaugurated a period of great prosperity and influence.

He left it bankrupt, overtaxed, and militarliy over extended. (Nope, no similarity to anything in sight)

39 posted on 05/12/2013 8:04:06 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the blind obedience of fools - Solon, Lawmaker of Athens)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: qam1

Justinian was in Byzantium, the eastern part of the empire that lasted longer.


40 posted on 05/12/2013 8:09:18 PM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Did not help that European cultural superstitions included fear of felines which led rats running wild if left unchecked. Also, any city that took their public work projects for granted were fair game. Once the pandemic stage hit (fleas/ticks), then all bets were off.


41 posted on 05/12/2013 8:12:35 PM PDT by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus

I recommend ”Count Belisarius”, a novel by Robert Graves about that era.


42 posted on 05/12/2013 8:13:30 PM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: juma

I recommend the novel ”Count Belisarius” by Robert Graves - a fascinating account of that period, the religion and the politics.


43 posted on 05/12/2013 8:16:37 PM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 38 | View Replies]

To: qam1

That’s like saying the 1918 Spanish flu help win the American Revolution


I blame Dr Who.


44 posted on 05/12/2013 8:20:57 PM PDT by Rides_A_Red_Horse (Why do you need a fire extinguisher when you can call the fire department?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

I was given to understand that based on forensics and historical data, that the extensive use of lead for carrying water and in eating/drinking utensils was a major contributor to the decline. Lead poisoning causes all sorts of nasty mental and physical problems.


45 posted on 05/12/2013 8:34:53 PM PDT by ChildOfThe60s (If you can remember the 60s.....you weren't really there)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: kabumpo
Justinian was from near Skopje in the present-day Republic of Macedonia--one of the last emperors who spoke Latin as his first tongue (although my guess is that Cicero would have cringed at what passed for Latin in the rural Balkans in the sixth century). The future pope Gregory the Great spent some time in Constantinople a little later and somehow managed not to learn Greek, so there must have been a critical mass of Latin-speakers even in Constantinople.

In the second half of the sixth century or first part of the seventh century much of the Balkans was overrun with Slavs (including some parts of Greece which were later re-hellenized). Although much of the territory was again under the control of Constantinople from time to time, that must have tipped the scales heavily in favor of the Greek language as opposed to Latin. Justinian's law code was in Latin but already a lot of the new laws were being issued in Greek.

46 posted on 05/12/2013 8:44:10 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

To: kabumpo
There was a proverb date obolum Belisario based on the legend that Belisarius later was a poor beggar in Constantinople--"give an obol to Belisarius" (an obol was one-sixth of a drachma). There is a cartoon thought to be by Benjamin Franklin from the era of the American Revolution which displays this proverb (but spells Belisarius' name with two L's).
47 posted on 05/12/2013 8:49:06 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus

I wonder if the Romans would have tried to further exploit their victory against the Parthians in that war if that plague hadn’t broke out. It seems their territorial gains were minimal in light of the victory.


48 posted on 05/12/2013 9:05:59 PM PDT by Aetius
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Verginius Rufus

The Robert Graves novel covers that.


49 posted on 05/12/2013 9:12:49 PM PDT by kabumpo (Kabumpo)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 47 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah

interesting accounts.


50 posted on 05/12/2013 9:41:30 PM PDT by KC Burke (Plain Conservative opinions and common sense correction for thirteen years)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-88 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson