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Ancient DNA unravels a mystery about the origin of medieval black death

Ancient DNA unravels a mystery about the origin of medieval black death


A dateless photo of the Tian Shan Mountains in Kyrgyzstan, a region of Central Asia that traces the origin of the 14th-century plague, where researchers studying the ancient plague genome killed tens of millions. Distribution via Lyazzat Musralina / REUTERS.

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June 15 (Reuters)-Ancient DNA from bubonic plague victims buried in a graveyard on an old Silk Road trade route in Central Asia is the starting point for black death, which killed dozens of people in northern Kilgistan. There were millions of people in the mid-14th century who helped identify areas and solve permanent mysteries.

Researchers on Wednesday from the teeth of three women buried in the Christian community of medieval Nestria in the Chu Valley near Lake Issyk Kul at the foot of the Tian Shan Mountains, which died between 1338 and 1339. He said he had taken out traces of ancient DNA. .. The earliest recorded death elsewhere in the pandemic was 1346.

Reconstruction of the pathogen’s genome revealed that this strain produced not only the plague-causing strain that struck Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, but also most of the plague strains that exist today.

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“Our discovery that the Black Death occurred in Central Asia in the 1330s rests the debate centuries ago,” said Philip Slavin, a historian at the University of Stirling in Scotland, in a journal. He said he was a co-author of the study. Nature..

The Silk Road was a land route for caravans carrying large quantities of goods from China through the luxury cities of Central Asia to points such as the Byzantine capital Constantinople and Persia. Also, if the pathogen gets on the caravan, it may have acted as a conduit for death.

“There are various hypotheses suggesting that the pandemic may have occurred in East Asia, especially near China, Central Asia, India, or where the first outbreaks were recorded in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions in 1346. I did. ” Maria Spiro of the University of Tubingen, Germany, an archaeologist and lead author of the study.

“We know that trade was likely the determinant of the spread of the plague’s black death to Europe. A similar process took place from Central Asia to the Black Sea between 1338 and 1346. It is reasonable to assume that it has determined the spread of the disease, “Spiro added.

The origin of the pandemic is fiercely contested, as evidenced by the current debate over the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Black death was the most deadly pandemic on record. Slavin said that 50% to 60% of the population could have died in parts of Western Europe and 50% in the Middle East, for a total of about 50-60 million people. An “unexplained number” of people have died in the Caucasus, Iran and Central Asia, Slavin added.

“Already in the Middle Ages, we see high mobility and rapid spread of human pathogens,” said Johannes Klaus, archaeologist and co-author of the study, director of the Max Planck Institute for Human History Sciences in Germany. I am saying. “Don’t underestimate the potential for pathogens to spread around the world from a great distance because of zoonotic diseases.”-An infectious disease that jumps from animal to human.

Researchers analyzed teeth, a source of abundant DNA, from seven people buried in community graveyards called Brana and Karazigach, and obtained plague DNA from three in Karazigach.

The cemetery excavated in the 19th century contained tombstones that killed the “plague” in Syriac. Objects such as pearls, coins, and clothing from remote locations indicate that the town is involved in international trade and probably provided stop and break services to long-distance caravans.

Bubonic plague, which could not be treated at the time, could be cured with antibiotics, swollen lymph nodes, exuding blood and pus, and spreading the infection to the blood and lungs.

In Europe, it was transmitted primarily through flea bites carried to infected mice. The pandemic occurred in wild rodents, probably a marmot, a type of ground squirrel, Slavin said. Rodents tagging along the caravan may have helped spread it, but other transmission mechanisms may have included human fleas and lice.

“We found that the closest living relatives of Yersinia pestis are still found in marmots in the area today,” Klaus said.

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Report by Will Danham of Washington, edited by Rosalva O’Brien

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters trusts the principles.




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