Origin of the plague that killed millions revealed after 600 years

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Origin of the plague that killed millions revealed after 600 years

Researchers believe they have uncovered the origins of the plague known as the ‘black death’, which killed tens of millions of people in Europe, Asia and Africa, after 600 years.

Origin of the plague that killed millions revealed after 600 years
The plague bacterium yersinia pestis (AFP)

According to the BBC, despite years of research, scientists have been unable to identify the origins of the plague, which broke out in the mid-14th century.

According to a new study by scientists from the University of Stirling in Scotland, the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the University of Tübingen, the plague began in Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia in the 1330s.

The research team analyzed ancient DNA samples taken from bodies buried in cemeteries near Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan.

The researchers specifically chose this region after noticing a significant increase in burials in 1338 and 1339.

Maria Spyrou, a researcher at the University of Tübingen, said the team sequenced DNA from seven skeletal samples:

“They analyzed the teeth. “They analyzed the teeth because they have a lot of blood vessels and offer researchers a great chance to detect blood-borne pathogens that can cause the death of individuals.”

The research team was able to find the plague bacteria called yersinia pestis in three of these teeth belonging to people who died between 1338 and 1339.

The researchers pointed out that the first documented deaths from plague elsewhere in the world were in 1346.

They therefore concluded that the disease originated in Kyrgyzstan before spreading to the rest of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

“Our discovery that the black plague originated in Central Asia in the 14th century pulls back the curtain on a debate that has raged for centuries,” said historian Philip Slavin of the University of Stirling.

The results of this new study are published in the journal Nature under the title ‘The Origin of the Black Death in Central Eurasia in the 14th century’.


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