Saturday, March 23, 2013

The DNA of "Black Death"

[caption id="attachment_7272" align="alignright" width="412" caption="Excavators dig up remains of Londoners believed to have died from the Black Death."][/caption]

According to, construction workers in London recently unearthed a burial ground containing victims of the Black Death while digging a new railway line on the edge of historic Charterhouse Square. Archeologists that are currently excavating the burial site say that it contained more than a dozen remains of people suspected of dying from the plague that ravaged 14th century Europe and claimed 75 million lives world-wide. Historical records revealed that a burial ground had been located in the area of the dig but were unclear as to the exact location until now. According to The Associated Press, thousands of Londoners were killed by the plague, though the exact number is unclear because record-keeping was so poor, said Roy Stephenson, head of the Museum of London's archaeological collections and archives.
Stephenson also said the bacillus is quite fragile and dies without a host so there is no chance that a new outbreak of bubonic plague might be ignited from the find.

The remains have been brought to the Museum of London Archaeology for testing. Project archaeologist Jay Carver said scientists will study the bones to confirm cause of death, and hope to map the DNA signature of the plague bacteria, which could be found in the teeth or bones of these victims. Radiocarbon dating could also be used to establish burial dates.
"This is a pretty rare find within London," Carver said Friday.

Though it may be a rare find these days in London, I have found that they are not all that uncommon around part of the rest of the country and other parts of Europe. The remains of over 75 million people are bound to crop up sooner or later with more of the world being transformed into modern communities. My concern is that though bacillus dies without a host, could it be possible that either a mutated strain is waiting to be revived or that a genetically modified version might rear it’s ugly head. Keep this away from Kim Jong-Un.


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