The London Black Death skeletons that were discovered in the London Crossrail excavations shed new light on the disease and the pandemic that occurred in the mid 1300’s. New research indicates that the mass spread of the disease was not by rats, but instead was airborne spread.
Also known as the bubonic plague, the London Black Death skeletons died anywhere from 1348-1350. The DNA from the skeletons had the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis. Millions of people perished from the fatal disease and for hundreds of years, researchers searched for the mysterious mass grave site.
According to lead archeologist Jay Carver:
“[This discovery] solves a 660-year-old mystery. This discovery is a hugely important step forward in documenting and understanding Europe’s most devastating pandemic. Further excavations will follow to see if – as we expect – we are coming across a much bigger mass burial trench. We will undertake further excavations in Charterhouse Square later this year to confirm some of the results”
Referred to as the “Great Pestilence,” black death came to Britain in 1348. Taking thousands of lives, historical documents indicate two burial grounds outside London’s city walls. While one has already been discovered in East Smithfield, the other was not officially discovered until recently.
In March of last year, Crossrail workers found 25 skeletons in a shaft. After their bodies were analyzed, scientists found that four of the bodies contained plague DNA. Using ground penetrating radar, the University of Keele detected signs of more burials within Charterhouse Square.
Scientists are hopeful that this latest discovery will help them understand how the plague progressed and evolved over time. While the disease has become less of the threat over the years, black death still kills 2.000 people each year.
London Black Death Skeletons Reveal Truth About the Disease and How It Spread.