Skip to comments.Plague Helped Bring Down Roman Empire
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 ...
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.
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To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
The answer to the problem of disease? Rife Machines.
Don’t know what that is? Google it!
...They're called liberals.
And the civilized world has a plague - it is called Islam.
I never liked that Justinian guy. He had shifty eyes.
Informative read. Thanks for posting.
And like AIDS , was is spread through blood as a result of using the sex organs unnaturally?
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.
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.
Genghis Khan brought it from the East over to Turkey and from there it went to Europe.
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.
The Black Plague was (and is) spread through insect bites and through infected exhaled vapor.
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
The Antonine Plague is believed to have been smallpox and/or measles.
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).
Informative read. Thanks for posting.
I second that.
Stop following my weekend activities, huh? It was one day with a democrat wench...
The Roman Empire endured in the east until the Turks took Constantinople.
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.
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.
Thanks Standing Wolf.
Best match for the Athenian plague is Typhus.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
I think it was 476. My in-laws ancesters went in 478 and everyone was speaking German.
Remember, everything on earth poops ~ so that's always around, as are rotten onions!
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.
He left it bankrupt, overtaxed, and militarliy over extended. (Nope, no similarity to anything in sight)
Justinian was in Byzantium, the eastern part of the empire that lasted longer.
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.
I recommend Count Belisarius, a novel by Robert Graves about that era.
I recommend the novel Count Belisarius by Robert Graves - a fascinating account of that period, the religion and the politics.
That’s like saying the 1918 Spanish flu help win the American Revolution
I blame Dr Who.
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.
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.
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.
The Robert Graves novel covers that.