WEBINAR: Genomics, Ecology and Epidemiology of the Historical Plagues: Rethinking Modalities of Spread and Transmission. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion.

In this webinar, Barbara Bramanti, associate professor of Physical Anthropology at the University of Ferrara, Italy, will present some of the major outcomes of a multidisciplinary ERC-research project (“MedPlag: The medieval plagues: ecology, transmission modalities and routes of the infections”), and reconsider dynamics behind pandemics.

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Rat-catchers and rat-searchers suitably dressed and equipped for searching ships and warehouses for evidences of live rats and rats dead from plague infection. The following are shown: overalls, leggings, gloves, lamps (electric), forceps, bags for rats, rat-traps. Liverpool Port Sanitary Authority. Wellcome Library no. 567136i. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

MedPlag made use of an integrative approach to test preeminent theories of Medieval Plague Pandemics, theories that have emerged in the past decades based on information about plague acquired at the beginning of the Third Plague Pandemic in Asia. By exploring alternative modalities of transmission of this infectious disease in the Middle Age and early modern times, along with the routes of dissemination in Eurasia, the project came to the conclusion that plague was most likely repeatedly imported into West-Europe from abroad, and that epidemics spread due to (direct or indirect) human contacts, rather than having been caused by rats and their parasites. By reviewing scientific reports and accounts of the Third Plague Pandemic in Europe, we also provided a plausible explanation about how plague disappeared from the continent from the 1950s and unearthed a paradigm that might also be useful in preventing further pandemics of any infectious disease.

About the speaker

Barbara Bramanti is Associate Professor of Physical Anthropology at the University of Ferrara, Italy. She has worked with ancient DNA (aDNA) methods on several projects at German academies (Göttingen and Mainz), and at the CEES, University of Oslo, where she has led the ERC AdG MedPlag (https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/324249/reporting). She has published seminal works concerning prehistoric human migrations and provided the first consistent evidence that the past plagues were caused by Yersinia pestis. Her current research still aims to address open questions about the genetic makeup of Eurasia, as well as about infectious diseases by means of molecular palaeopathology.

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.

Tags: OSEH, IKOS, HF, Environmental Humanities
Published Jan. 18, 2021 10:47 AM - Last modified Jan. 18, 2021 10:57 AM