5,000-year-old plague bacteria found

It’s looking like perhaps plague originated in the unsanitary human conditions that were created by the first societies crowding people together.

It’s weird when I hear the faith-shackled laugh at concerns about the demise of humanity as though it were the most implausible notion imaginable (well at least until God decides to pull the plug).

Me, the more I learn about human history the more it seems plain as day that complete self-destruction is something we’ve been building up to towards for a long long time.


By Bruce Bower

DECEMBER 6, 2018 AT 12:00 PM


A long-dead Scandinavian woman has yielded bacterial DNA showing that she contracted the earliest known case of the plague in humans.

DNA extracted from the woman’s teeth comes from a newly identified ancient strain of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague, the oldest ever found. The woman’s bones, which date from 5,040 to 4,867 years ago, were found nearly 20 years ago in a mass grave at an ancient farming site in Sweden. …

Comparisons of the newly found Y. pestis strain with other ancient and modern strains suggest that a plague epidemic emerged more than 5,000 years ago in densely populated farming communities in southeastern Europe. Then the plague spread elsewhere, including to Scandinavia, via trade routes, Rasmussen’s team concludes. That ancient epidemic apparently contributed to sharp population declines in Europe that began as early as 8,000 years ago (SN: 11/2/13, p. 12).

I haven’t gotten a plague vaccine, yet.

Anyway, this post got me thinking. Humans have, apparently, not been shaped directly by evolution to live together in dense populations. Our abilities to do that more successfully has been a product of cultural innovations and development.

Our cultural innovations and development have been so successful, that we, now, are supporting a world population of billions of humans. Were we to suddenly lose our knowledge, most humans would die and what was left would revert to small scattered bands of people.