Stone-Age Migration Likely Brought Plague to Europe
(Courthouse News) – New genetic evidence suggests nomads migrating into Europe during the Stone Age might have been trying to escape the plague, but instead brought it with them.
These findings stem from an analysis of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany.
After screening more than 500 ancient skeletal samples, the team was able to recover the full genomes of the plague bacteria from six individuals.
The team’s analysis of these samples, published Wednesday in the journal Current Biology, reveals the plague entered Europe about 4,800 years ago and coincides with a large-scale migration of people from the Caspian-Pontic Steppe – in present-day Ukraine and Russia – into Europe.
The Y. pestis genomes, which were found in different parts of Europe, are fairly closely related, according to the team.
A male individual (6Post) from the Haunstetten Postillionstraße site, with a dagger, flint arrow heads, bracelet and bone pin. (Stadtarchäologie Augsburg)