What if the Black Death came 2000 years ago?

Isleifson

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
4,074
Lorraine tudesque
If these guys are right, the entry into Europe occurs with the Copper Age and we should be blaming the Indo-Europeans horse riders and not the Middle East Neothilic farmer for this particular disease.

The authors of the report which I summarise below show that the YPestis grand parent was a tuberculosis bacterium which mutated and continues to mutate:

From our findings, we conclude that the ancestor of extant Y. pestis strains was present by the end of the 4th millennium BC and was widely spread across Eurasia from at least the early 3rd millennium BC. The occurrence of plague in the Bronze Age Eurasian individuals we sampled (7 of 101) indicates that plague infections were common at least 3,000 years earlier than recorded historically. However, based on the absence of crucial virulence genes, unlike the later Y. pestis strains that were responsible for the first to third pandemics, these ancient ancestral Y. pestis strains likely did not have the ability to cause bubonic plague, only pneumonic and septicemic plague.

These early plagues may have been responsible for the suggested population declines in the late 4th millennium BC and the early 3rd millennium BC (Hinz et al., 2012, Shennan et al., 2013).
It has recently been demonstrated by ancient genomics that the Bronze Age in Europe and Asia was characterized by large-scale population movements, admixture, and replacements (Allentoft et al., 2015, Haak et al., 2015), which accompanied profound and archaeologically well-described social and economic changes (Anthony, 2007, Kristiansen and Larsson, 2005).

In light of our findings, it is plausible that plague outbreaks could have facilitated—or have been facilitated by—these highly dynamic demographic events. However, our data suggest that Y. pestis did not fully adapt as a flea-borne mammalian pathogen until the beginning of the 1st millennium BC, which precipitated the historically recorded plagues.
Sure, but plague is only really dangereous for people living close to each eather : a village.
No real village before the Neolithic Revolution.
 
Mar 2015
1,456
Yorkshire
Sure, but plague is only really dangereous for people living close to each eather : a village.
No real village before the Neolithic Revolution.
Yes Indeed.

Particularly the early form of YPestis which was human to human.

Of course, herders have the advantage that they can move on quickly - not so our neothilic villager. We can only speculate but did this weaken the neothilic farmer resistance to the new intruder.
 
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Jul 2019
27
Australia
Thanks for the replies guys.

So lets say it did come around 400BC from China (I think the Justinian plague came through China too right?). I think around this time trade existed between the Scythians and China so it could come through that route. Lets say Greek merchants in the region do their thing and get fleas on their ships etc. Who would be affected the most (apart from the Scythians, they would probably get it bad like I believe the Mongols did with the real Black Death) and how bad could it be?
 
Mar 2015
1,456
Yorkshire
Thanks for the replies guys.

So lets say it did come around 400BC from China (I think the Justinian plague came through China too right?). I think around this time trade existed between the Scythians and China so it could come through that route. Lets say Greek merchants in the region do their thing and get fleas on their ships etc. Who would be affected the most (apart from the Scythians, they would probably get it bad like I believe the Mongols did with the real Black Death) and how bad could it be?
The accounts are quite clear that the Plague arrived first in Egypt at Pelusium in the Nile delta.

John of Ephesus claims it came from the South, from the Kush ie modern Sudan and there maybe some recent scientific evidence which indicates an African source. Other writers had different guesses, Persia and India. In any case China is very unlikely.
 
Jul 2019
27
Australia
All good, I just saw this on Wikipedia thats all:
""Ancient and modern Yersinia pestis strains closely related to the ancestor of the Justinian plague strain have been found in Tian Shan, a system of mountain ranges on the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China, suggesting that the Justinian plague may have originated in or near that region.""

So lets say it did spread around the Mediterranean through ships from the Nile then. Who would it affect the most and would it affect places like Britain or even Scandinavia? Would it reach the greek colonies on the Black Sea or not?
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
Read up on the Plague of Justinian that ravaged Europe circa 540. It may have been worse than the Black Death of the 14th century, but because it was so long ago, Justinian''s Plague is less well documented.
You took the words right out of my mouth. In addition to the Justinian Plague, there have been other plagues throughout history. Obviously, the location and timing makes a great difference. A plague in a sparsely populated area with isolated tribes or groups will not have the same impact as one in a densely populated, mobile society where the disease(s) can spread more quickly. And let's not forget humankind's ability to control and remedy such things.
 
Jul 2019
27
Australia
Well how do you think the ancient world would react, and how would the plague affect things like Religion, Society, Economy etc. Would people be more or less religious?
Could new religions/beliefs begin from something like this? I imagine hygiene would also greatly improve (possibly preventing the real Black Death from happening so many years later).
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,327
SoCal
Don't know much about the Black Death but just wondering how people think it (or another incredibly disastrous plague/disease) would've spread throughout and impacted ancient Europe around 400 BC had it happened at that time. I'd also like to know if it was actually possible for a plague of that time to exist and ravage Europe and how it could've began/spread. I've heard of a pretty bad plague that happened in Ancient Athens but nothing on the scale of the Black Death.

Thanks
For one, wouldn't labor have become much more valuable? If so, couldn't the workers who survived this plague band together and demand better salaries and more rights? I mean, the Black Death in real life helped pave the way for the end of feudalism in Europe due to the fact that the labor necessary to sustain this system simply didn't exist anymore after a third of Europe's population died from the Black Death.