Historical and Biological Approaches to the Study of Modern Age French Plague Mass Burials

Raffaella Bianucci, Stean Tzortzis, Gino Fornaciari, Michel Signoli


The Black Death and subsequent epidemics from 1346 to the early 18th century spread from the Caspian Sea all over Europe six hundred years after the outbreak of the Justinian plague (541-767 AD). Plague has been one of the most devastating infectious diseases that affected the humankind and has caused approximately 200 million human deaths historically.
Here we describe the different approaches adopted in the study of several French putative plague mass burials dating to the Modern Age (16th -18th centuries). Through complementation of historical, archaeological and paleobiological data, ample knowledge of both the causes that favoured the spread of the Medieval plague in cities, towns and small villages and of the modification of the customary funerary practices in urban and rural areas due to plague are gained.

Key words: Yersinia pestis - RDT plague - Ancient human remains

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