November 7, 2006
06-148

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Edtwon A. Myree Student Assistant

VSU Science Seminar looks at the culprit behind Medieval BlackDeath

The Science Seminar Series at Valdosta State University continues on Thursday, November 9, at 4p.m. Powell Hall with Dr. Brian Bossak of the Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences presenting The Medieval Black Death: A New Look at an Old Killer.

Occurring over 650 years ago, between 1347 and 1351 the Black Death is considered to be the greatest pandemic in recorded history, responsible for the death for approximately 25 to 30 million people in Europe.

For at least 100 years, since the identification of the Yersinia pestis bacterium, the bacteria that caused the plague, by Dr. Alexander Yersin in 1894, the “Black Death” has been attributed to bubonic plague.

Over the past twenty years, a new line of thinking regarding the “Black Death” has occurred among some leading scientists. A variety of emerging geographical, biological, and epidemiological evidence now suggests that the commonly held belief that the “Black Death” was a pandemic of bubonic plague is suspect.

Explanations include the possibility that the medieval plague was caused by a strain of Anthrax or an Ebola-like virus, or perhaps even an especially rare, hyper virulent strain of Y. pestis originating in marmots, not rats. In this presentation, Dr. Bossak will present the multitude of accumulating evidence against bubonic plague as the causative agent of the “Black Death”, and offers a new, alternative hypothesis regarding the causative agent of the medieval “Black Death”. This new hypothesis has potentially deadly ramifications under certain scenarios related to future global environmental changes.

For more information contact Dr. Blaine Browne at 229-249-4914 or Dr. David Bechler at 229-333-5759 or visit www.valdosta.edu/scisem .