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DNA tests of 800-year-old gravesite in Kyrgyzstan suggest that region was source of Black Death

Based on DNA tests of several 800-year-old graves in northern Kyrgyzstan near Lake Issyk Kul, it appears that the Black Death that first appeared in Europe in the 1300s and killed as much as half its population came from this region initially.

Working with Slavin and Russian collaborators including Valeri Khartanovich of the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, where the Issyk Kul skulls were stored, Spyrou extracted DNA from the pulp of seven individuals’ teeth and found three were infected with Y. pestis. She was able to reconstruct a high-quality genome of the ancient strain that killed them. That strain “fell exactly on the origin point of that big bang event” in the evolution of Y. pestis, Spyrou says. “That was incredibly exciting.”

The strain was closely related to ones found in rodents near Issyk Kul today. The authors suggest it spilled over to humans, perhaps from a marmot, which are abundant in the Tian Shan mountain region of northern Kyrgyzstan, southern Kazakhstan, and northwestern China.

What is fascinating most about this discovery is that we actually have the names of some of the Black Death’s first victims, read from their tombstones: ““This is the tomb of the believer Sanmaq. [He] died of pestilence.”

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


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Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • That may be where the disease re-emerged, but it’s clearly not where plague ultimately originated — for the very simple reason that 8 centuries before plague (re-)appeared as the Black Death in mid-14th century Europe (the Mediterranean, and Asia), plague earlier had ravaged the Mediterranean region and beyond in the devastating pandemic (which lingered for centuries before receding) known as the Justinianian plague beginning in the 530’s AD. Genetic studies have shown that both pandemics were caused by the same organism.

  • Max

    I wonder what our descendants in the new renaissance a thousand years from now, will say about our time…. (history will be revised and written by the survivors)
    Was it a flu that caused the dark age that came from Wuhan China? What is it a great cabal of world political organizations seeking to establish a “new world order” saying “destroy it all” and “burn it all down”, we will build it back better!
    Or was it corporate greed combined with savior mentality of saving the earth that lead to the “Great die off” of billions…
    Mad cow disease has been discovered in the vaccinations. (CJD) Prions that cause holes in the brain usually take decades to form before dementia overwhelms the person. Millions of people have neurological side effects… is it just the beginning?

    I’ve often posted about the last time they experimented on people with new untested drugs. It was called Gulf War syndrome.
    I don’t know if anybody noticed, but they just recently declared the mystery illness “solved!” and pushed 20,000 to 50,000 deaths under the rug! Their claiming it was caused by the destruction of Saddam Hussein’s nerve agents.
    Very few people were near these nerve agents when they were destroyed, nor did the local population have similar deaths. It also does not explain how National Guard units, that never went overseas, came down with the same illness after receiving the mandatory shots…

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