Anthropologists at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have determined that the Yersinia pestis bacteria caused the Black Death that raged across Europe in the Middle Ages. Cause of the epidemic has remained highly controversial and other pathogens were often named as possible causes, in particular for northern Europe.
Using DNA and protein analyses from skeletons of plague victims, an international team led by the scientists from Mainz has now conclusively shown that Yersinia pestis was responsible for the Black Death in the 14th century and the subsequent epidemics that continued to erupt throughout the European continent for the next 400 years.
"Our findings indicate that the plague traveled to Europe over at least two channels, which then went their own individual ways," explains Dr. Barbara Bramanti from the Institute of Anthropology of Mainz University.
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