Mass mortality of the black death – as deadly as the plague raged in the Roman Empire?

Emperor Justinian, mosaic from the Basilica of Saint Vital of Ravenna

It is considered to be one of the most serious epidemics of Europe – from the North to Egypt and Iran – has ever made. Long the plague was the wave from the middle of the 5. Century on the continent was raging, as a turning point. You should roughly have half of the population died. Even the Emperor himself, Justinian, fell ill, but survived the wave that became known as the Justinian plague in the story. And for a long time in the eyes of science, the decline of the Roman Empire and the end of antiquity have ushered in.

But for the last few decades, some historians of this theory contradict. The estimates of the population losses be classified by some as “hysterical”. In addition to the written Traditions of the Greek writer Procopius and some of the Church stories, there are also archaeological finds. Now a historian team of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center at the University of has published of Maryland a new study. In addition to the historical sources, the circulation of coins, burial practices, pollen samples, inscriptions and other data has been examined. “If this plague would have been a crucial Moment in the history of mankind, which, as has been claimed often, in just a few years, between a third and half of the population in the Mediterranean, the life would have cost, we would have to have evidence, but our data collection was not,“ said Lee, Mordecai, who worked on the study, to “CNN”.

Black Death

The fight against the plague is this year a war

In Madagascar, the plague has broken out – as is the case every year. The current disease wave prepares physicians, however, worry. The epidemic is progressing more aggressive than usual.

Epidemic of bubonic plague in the Roman Empire

The researchers found that significantly fewer people have died in the plague wave. The epidemic played any role in the downfall of the Roman Empire. “We find little evidence for the claim that the Justinian plague was a turning point,” according to the study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. One of the justifications of the researchers, was why detained so long at the death wave: Earlier scholars had focused on the impressive, written sources, and these findings to other places in the Mediterranean and at the same time, you have ignored many of the contemporary texts in which the justininan of plague at all, not even showed up.

An indication for the milder course of the disease and the Form of the burial. The disease kills in a short period of time many people, also changes the shape of the tombs. So the “black death”, the great plague epidemic during the middle ages, mass graves are from the time known, in which the dead were barely buried. Such graves, the researchers for the period of the 5 could. Century does not account for. “We have a large data set of human burials, and after the outbreak of the plague examined, and the plague has not led to a significant change,” says Janet Kay, co-author of the Princeton University.

The outbreak of the disease in 1892

The gravedigger worked around the clock – as the Cholera epidemic in Hamburg raged

Worse than the plague – the great Cholera epidemic raged in Hamburg. Nearly 9000 people died because the city estimated the disease in a long time. And the filthy poor area provided a perfect breeding ground for the disease.

Agriculture did not collapse

Also the agricultural production in the period was examined. The experts looked at the amount of grain of pollen to be more precise: A reduction in this would mean that the agricultural sector is in decline. This happened outbreaks at the time of the medieval Plague. “If fewer people work on the Land, this would need to be in Pollen to be demonstrated, but so far this has not succeeded,” said another author of the study.

However, the researchers admit that their records were perfect. Thus, future researchers have their work might disagree. However, currently you have evaluated all of the available data. a multidisciplinary Team worked together.


More than 100 people die in Madagascar, the plague

The plague was still difficult, is undisputed. However, modern research is now suggesting that “only” around a quarter of the population died of the disease. Justinian himself survived the plague, was then but a completely different person. Instead of full of Elan he is described as hesitant. He died at the age of 83 of natural causes.

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