Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

What caused the Black Death?

The coolest thing about this article in the New Scientist is that it shows that we can still discover new things about the Middle Ages.

Fresh controversy has broken out over the cause of the Black Death that killed up to half the people in Europe in 1348 and circulated for centuries after that.

For a century the blame has rested with the bubonic plague bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by rats and fleas. But the most ambitious effort yet to find traces of Yersinia in the remains of Black Death victims has failed, and the researchers involved argue that a previous study that did report finding Yersinia was flawed…. They think it might have been a haemorrhagic virus that caused massive bleeding, like Ebola.

The second coolest is that there turns out to be an Ancient Biomolecules Centre.

Update: Here’s another one:

Biblical accounts of the construction of an ancient underground tunnel below Jerusalem have been verified by dating the material lining its walls…. [T]he tunnel, just 60 centimetres wide and between one and five metres in height, is the first biblical structure dating from the Iron Age to be authenticated.

[via Paul]

45 Comments

  1. How can you be surprised? New Scientist ROCKS. Although I am impressed with further proof of biblical stuff. Loved how, on the tour to the Sea of Galilee (or Lake Kinneret, as it was locally termed), our tour guide went out and walked on the water himself. The water’s surface is only a few inches over a well hidden rocky shelf that’s been there for recorded history, and the lake’s levels are allegedly pretty similar to how they were 2000 years ago…

  2. I think that the black had to have been very hard for peopl who lived in the middle and I would have hated to live back then

  3. what are the living conditions that made disease a common problem for all people from the plague

  4. what did the people at the time think caused the black death?

  5. What did the peopple at the time think caused the black death? how did they try to cure it? how was it spread and how long was it untill you died?

  6. You All Suck!

  7. What did people at the time think caused the black death?

  8. its really weird how medieval peeps thought it was carried in the air…

  9. Medieval people thought the black death was carried through travvellers and merchants, they thought it was a punishment from god, they thought it was caused by bad smells. At one time they thought it was carried by cats! We now know it was carried by rats and so because the medeval people thought it was carried by cats, they killed them, and then there weren’t as many cats to kill the rats! I’m doing a black death project for school and the current question I am on says ‘What did people think caused the black death?’ WHAT A COINCIDENCE?!?!!? haha

  10. thanks april

  11. yall need to find the real reasons

  12. Thanks April That Helped Alot 🙂

  13. Hi Dad, I’m on a website

  14. i’m doing a project on the blach death & i think it’s gross!!!!

    luckily no body in Australia has suffered from it yet!

  15. i love death and black but this project im doing is impossible!

  16. Over twenty people have died in the last ten days. People have said that blotches have appeared on their bodies. We believe that cats are bringing this disease to England.
    IF YOU SEE A CAT…KILL IT.

  17. whats ma name..................

    March 2, 2007 at 10:17 am

    fk this web sute its crap this is a shit website peeps whu go on there suck ya cock!!!!!!!!!…………..losers!!! YEH STEFFI WARDEN U ARE WIRGHT ALL OF THEM SUCK!!

  18. thats harsh john. and emos r gay

  19. it is ok but u should av more reasons

  20. u shud av more information

  21. this is kinda confusing but it kool at the same time. it gross 2!!!!!!!

  22. thanks april that helped me alot

  23. The Black Death wiped out One third of the population of the continents. Medieval cities fared much worse. With their narrow streets making transmission of the disease much easier, nearly half of the populations of some larger cities perished from this epidemic. The Black Death’s origins were from Asia, where it decimated the population there as well, and was brought to Western Europe along trading highway, first arriving in Sicily in 1347. This disease was spread primarily through rats and fleas.

  24. People thought a couple of reasons:
    They thought that the black death was caused by bad smells as they stench of the bodies when they have buboes were smelly. THey also thought that jews, foreigners, beggars, etc were the main causes of the plague. Of course, they thought that god was punishing them because of the large amount of swearing and gambling taking place. There was also a legend on a PLague maiden who was thought to have caused the plague with her red scarf. She is said to be very pretty and when she waved her scarf, the house would be plague infested.

  25. BTW the above info is by shiying lol

  26. This is a perfect intro for an article of the Black Death:

    Ghastly, blood curling, dark boils were grown in the regions of the armpits and groins, oozing blood and pus…burn boils was what they called it. The vomiting of blood was tremendous and continuous, but above all, the worst was the pain. The pain that rushed through the victims was indescribable. After a few days the victim would die an excruciating and gruesome death. This was what they called…“The Black Death”. And now it had reached Denmark.

  27. This is a perfect intro for an article of the Black Death:

    Ghastly, blood curling, dark boils were grown in the regions of the armpits and groins, oozing blood and pus…burn boils was what they called it. The vomiting of blood was tremendous and continuous, but above all, the worst was the pain. The pain that rushed through the victims was indescribable. After a few days the victim would die an excruciating and gruesome death. This was what they called…“The Black Death”. And now it had reached Denmark.

  28. hey r teachers makin us write a 6 page fin about dis and i just wanted 2 say thnx to april coz she really helped!!!!and we dont SUCK!!!!lol

  29. gr8 thanx that helped i gotta do a whole project from it!

  30. Many people wanting to find out about this new disease turned to the church, they were told it was god’s will to have the plague and many people thought this was unfair and turned away from the church, even bishops and priests fled trying to avoid the plague.
    Many people thought it may have been caused by cats or dogs and the job of killing cats and kittens were soon being sent round.
    They also had a theory that the plague travelled in the air by a cloud.
    hebz XX

  31. shimmer sparkly

    April 12, 2007 at 6:10 am

    what did people think caused the black death

  32. heyy
    omg thanks so much to that person… i think her name was april or something….well thanks lol i’m doing this thing on the black death…haha i had to draw a person with the black death [showing the symptoms] and i drew this person with a REALLY cool tshirt that said ‘im dead’ lol just thought you should all know how amazing i am xx

  33. ?! thats so weird! haha the above post wasn’t from shimmer sparkly but ME instead which probably means that radiojas wrote it? lol i dunno xx

  34. haha lol i know AGAIN? but yeah by ‘it’ i meant april’s post who everyone is like woww thanks so much to! well it was probably radiojas so thanks radiojas. xx

  35. lauren richmond

    April 23, 2007 at 8:10 am

    what did people first think caused the black death?

  36. lauren richmond

    April 23, 2007 at 8:10 am

    what did people first think caused the black death?

  37. people thought the placement of the planets caused the plauge

  38. hey John Smith, if u hate this website so much why were u even on it???

  39. u no, i might be a boffin (which i am) but this site helps me alot. i’m doin a project on black death and i thought that i should say dat Flagellants marched in large groups with their back bare and then beat their backs up as a sign for god to punish them. They did this because they believed that god was the cause of the black eath in punishing them for their sins. They also did this to whip away the devils and to bring god to forgive them

  40. thanks im doing a project on the black death and this helped cover my last question

  41. Rachel ( im Australian )

    June 17, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    Hey i have to right a pharagraph for year eight that goes for 30 seconds it has to sound really gross but has to have facts and you have to start off withWhat we do to the bodies of the poor wreches when they dies is, and it has to be set as if you were the plague doctore anybody got and ideas for the next bit???? luv rachey xoxo

  42. i havent suffered from the black death yet but have had a few colds! we are studying the black death at the minute and it seems interesting.

  43. just using this website made me feel sick. I am outraged by the lack of grammar used by certain users.Laugh out loud!

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