What if the Black Death came 2000 years ago?

Jul 2019
Interesting, slavery would take a big hit and labor would definitely become more valuable but I'm not sure if it would propel the people into a completely new system. If it did though, it would be interesting to see the ancient world adopt feudalism.

Also, just to clarify, the Justinian plague is not believed to have originated in China?
Mar 2015
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?
Firstly the Tian Shan maybe part of PRC today but its not geographically part of China proper. This is Central Asia and the Tarim Basin (see Maps below) is famous for its "european mummies" who actually turn out to be Indo-European, Afansievo civilisation and the easternmost outpost of IE family from its roots in the Yamnaya of the Pontic Steppe - until displaced by Turkic tribes. An IE language, Tocharian was still being spoken in this area 500 years ago (number 2 in map below represents the IE expansion).

Yamna expansion.jpgTian Shan.JPG

Since it has now been shown that early strains of YPestis were present in some Yamnaya skeletons, it should not be surprising to see this cropping up in the daughter civilisation.

So I would be sceptical of the claim that the Justinian plague arrived via this route. As you can see in the bottom map where the yellow line represents the Silk Road, one would have expected a Tien Shan source to crop up first in Turkey - but we know it is Egypt.

Regarding the second part of your question. The Answer is yes it did affect England and Ireland as well, reportedly arriving at Marseilles in a cargo of cloth from Spain (there is scientific evidence to indicate that this was very probable), spread up through France via the trade routes into North West Europe.

Until recently it was believe that Germany had been unaffected but compelling evidence has been found in Austrian and Bavarian skeletons that again it was present here and travelled down the Rhine (possible the route for the presence in Anglo Saxon England).


Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
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).
It's hard to say. As they likely would not understand its origins, or how to contain it, they might double down on their philosophical belief system(s).