DNA of the Black Death at East Smithfield, London

I am achieving potential thanks to internet technology.

My self-learning of British history and herstory  show knowledge is power – like the motto on my primary school building. I’ve been born to mature into a time where the democratisation of knowledge is easier.  It has become common knowledge the genes we carry can protect us long enough to survive and procreate, but they also give us a pre-disposition to other diseases including mental well-being.

Deaths by disease on individuals have devastating impact on families affecting the next generation. Joining the British Army to feed and clothe yourself can be catastrophic on the woman you marry as Syphillus like my Grandparents in 19th and 20th century Scotland and Ireland.

T.B. killed leaving widows and young children in a time when the woman was evicted for being without a bread-winning husband….no wonder there was such resistance for women getting the vote.

If a woman could survive childbirth without an infection, she was lucky. Medical discoveries like antibiotics have relieved us from suffering and stopped us from dying.

Open minds and willingness to follow scientific leads – will lead us further in insight. Investment in scientific research may help us defeat the bacteria and viruses evolve resistance to our old potions and give us Hell on earth – obliterate our existence.

Australia has a Conservative Prime Minister who has devalued Science – no tax on pollution to fund greenhouse reduction,  an ignorance of the necessity of Science as a key threat to the economy by not interested in conserving ecologies, or even bothering to have a  Minister for Science. 

Science is everywhere not God Prime Minister – exploiting knowledge for money’s sake can also be our down-fall, our misery, our extinction. It depresses me. 

Now, I escape, time-travel the generations and enjoy the ride to the destintion. I have  arrived in East London 1600! A Mariner, called Hugh Cannaday marries Thomasin Lloyd in 1631. I can find documents of 5 children, but only 1, my Great Grandmother x 11 – Why? Was she the only one to survive – a new fact of life and death and grief emerges.

Sailors, Prostitutes and Puritans!

More bodies for the Thames.

Bills of Mortality

Contagions

It seems as though every couple of months a new paper is published reporting Yersinia pestis DNA from ancient remains. This week brought the latest installment from London’s East Smithfield Black Death cemetery. This cemetery holds a special place in the scientific investigations of the Black Death because it is so well documented as being specifically for the first wave of plague in 1348-1350 and the  recovery of so many well-preserved skeletons. This cemetery has been the subject of several bioaracheological studies, primarily by former plague skeptic Sharon DeWitte, making this one of the best characterized set of Black Death victims yet to be discovered. DeWitte is also one of the co-authors of this study.

Using a new method of ‘targeted enrichment’  and high through-put sequencing an international group led by Hendrik Poinar was able to clone and sequence relatively long stretches of Yersinia pestis DNA from recovered remains. They…

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