What Happens When We Expand the Chronology and Geography of Plague’s History?

Plague’s history has usually been told through a Eurocentric lens. Although the eastern Mediterranean figures squarely in narratives of the Justinianic Plague, and Black Death narratives have long seen that late medieval pandemic as “originating” in the Black Sea, we know now that the common conception of both these epidemic crises has obscured larger geographic connections, and thus skewed our chronology as well. Recent palaeogenetic work on Yersinia pestis (the causative organism of plague) reveals why we need to expand our understanding of plague’s impacts. This, in turn, allows common, comparative questions to be raised about plague’s history across pre-modern Afro-Eurasia.