The Origins of the Black Death Revealed

The Origins of the Black Death Revealed

DECODE – To unravel this mystery, scientists performed DNA analysis on human remains.

The Black Death swept through Europe between 1347 and 1353. Six years, enough to decimate up to 50% of the European population. The origin of this catastrophe remains controversial, but a team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, publishes new elements in the journal Nature this Wednesday. Contrary to what has long been touted, China would not be the initial focus of the disease. In fact, one has to look further west, to Kyrgyzstan, to see the first traces of the damage caused by the bacterium responsible for the disease, Yersinia pestis.

“This work confirms the clusters of evidence that have accumulated in recent years,” says Étienne Patin, a researcher in the Department of Human Evolutionary Genetics at the Pasteur Institute. Scientists studied archaeological remains discovered at the Kara-Djigash and Burana sites in the Chu Valley near Lake Issyk-Kul in present-day Kyrgyzstan. “Of…

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