What you need to know about the #PestisSecunda. A 🧵 for 2022.
Yesterday, I posed the question; "If we've been this ignorant about the largest pandemic in human history, on what kind of foundation are we basing responses now?"
I was referring to the #2ndPlaguePandemic. 1/n
For the past several years, I've been accustomed to saying that most people have a basic misconception of the Black Death (BD), the wave of plague that swept from the Black Sea thru the Middle East, N Africa, & Europe in 1346-53. People thought it came & then disappeared. 2/n
They didn't realize that the BD was the genetic foundation for all plague outbreaks that would strike the region periodically for the next 4-500 years. Cairo, Constantinople, Algiers, London, Seville, Marseille. And 1000s of towns & villages in betw. All due to same lineage. 3/n
What I've realized this past year is that that narrative may be slightly wrong. It's been clear since 2016 that at least 1 group of outbreaks in the "second wave" of Europe's plague era was caused by a lineage of Y. pestis that played no role in subsequent European outbreaks. 4/n
Up to this past year, it's been assumed that the main lineage that caused all subsequent European outbreaks, up to the famed Plague of Marseille/Provence in 1720-22, was a direct descendant of the Y. pestis lineage that arrived in Europe in 1347/48. Now, that story's changed. 5/n
Instead, a study that appeared in March 2021 presented evidence that the BD strains (which reached Europe in 1347-8) were different from "Lineage 1A," which was responsible for outbreaks from 1363 to 1722. Here's the phylogenetic tree, marked to show the separate clades. 6/n A phylogenetic tree, showing the relation between the Yersin
What does all this mean? These findings remain to be confirmed by geneticists & historians. But at the moment they suggest a parallel w/ our present moment. Pathogens given the freedom to proliferate will do so. Omicron may be our #PestisSecunda, an occult strain seeded ... 7/n
... early in the pandemic (in who knows what host or reservoir), only to emerge later. That it is less lethal than the 1st wave does not necessarily mean it causes less havoc. The BD seems to have left survivors numb. The 2nd wave left more recorded memories of trauma. 8/n
How is this a hopeful message from the past as we look out on a New Year? I find hope b/c it gives us a clear goal. Over 580,000 new COVID cases were reported in the U.S. yesterday. We need to stop transmission. We know how to do it. We just need to do it. #MaskUp 9/end

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More from @monicaMedHist

3 Dec 21
@prof_goldberg @sanghyuk_shin Hi Daniel. OK back online.Thanks. I've been following the phylogeny (evolutionary trees) of SARS-CoV-2 since the beginning, primarily b/c my work the past decade has convinced me that pathogen evolution is the key tool we can use to understand both present & past pandemics.
@prof_goldberg @sanghyuk_shin One of the 1st things I did when the announcement came out of 🇿🇦 last week was to look at the phylogenetic tree for what was still being called B.1.1.529 (now #Omicron). It was stunning. I assumed it was a variant of Delta, which has been in active circulation for months.
@prof_goldberg @sanghyuk_shin What was obvious right then (way back on 26 Nov) was that it had come out of the blue. Look at where it is on the general phylogeny: it's that red cluster, here labeled 21K. It's hard to see on this densely packed image but if you follow the strain back to its origins it's empty.
Read 9 tweets
29 Dec 20
Okay, I've confirmed that the corrected text of the Marmot Supplement has been posted. So I will do a short thread summarizing key points from "The Four Black Deaths" (hereafter, 4BDs). A reminder that the essay+supplement are #OpenAccess until 12/31: academic.oup.com/ahr/advance-ar…. 1/n
1) the Black Death (= #2ndPlaguePandemic) started in 13thC not 14th
2) wasn't just Mediterranean/Europe
3) originated w/ spillover out of marmot reservoir of plague → Big Bang
4) likely spread thru Mongol Empire via grain supplies
5) we need a rethink of 13thC history 2/n
OK, now for a slightly deeper dive. Why suggest that the Black Death had an earlier origin & wider footprint than we've suspected before? Genetics! Work in the past decade on #YersiniaPestis has transformed what we know about the history of this phenomenally lethal organism. 3/n
Read 10 tweets
15 Jun 20
Last week, I mentioned that I was planning a thread for #CiteBlackWomenSunday. I ended up posting a subsidiary thread () about how a novice can do a focused "take" on a historical question that's new to them. But I didn't get to the main thread I planned.
The main thread I had planned, in fact, was to cite myself, since it seemed clear that nobody else was going to do so. This is in regard to a blogpost that appeared on 5 June. There, I was "cited" but not read. Here's the blogpost in question: medium.com/@mrambaranolm/….
And here's a cc: to the author, so she can follow along, should she wish: @ISASaxonists. (Note: this thread will take a while to put together, as I want to make sure I get all the receipts. I won't be interrupting to respond to comments now.)
Read 40 tweets
7 Jun 20
I'm going to do a longer thread today in honor of #CiteBlackWomenSunday. But here's a mini-thread 1st w/ an explanation of my reply to a medievalist colleague @tlecaque in a different conversation. He had recommended that s/o read "all" my works. I said, no, start w/ just a few.
Why just a few? Obviously, there are only so many hours in the day. The last time I counted (which was several years ago), I had already pub'd over 4000 pages of work. Even I couldn't read all that now! But the more important reason is that I have always believed that we build ..
... our historical understandings in layers. We need a basic "skeleton" of hard facts: a sense of chronology, of space, of a kind of "physics" of the real world & its limits (e.g., what kinds of transportation are available). On that skeletal framework we then layer other ...
Read 12 tweets
7 May 20
Start updating your #BlackDeath lectures, folks! Hannah Barker has just released a pre-print of her eye-popping, paradigm-shifting study: "Laying the Corpses to Rest: Grain, Embargoes, and Yersinia pestis in the Black Sea, 1346-1348," scholar.google.com/scholar_url?ur… #GlobalMiddleAges
I'll be tweeting some significant findings from this paper over the next several days, as we build up to next week's "Mother of All Pandemics" session sponsored by the @MedievalAcademy (medievalacademy.org/general/custom…). Today, just fn. 3, on Issyk Kul.
fn. 3: "Since Lake Issyk Kul is located near a plague reservoir, this outbreak may have no causal connection with the Second Pandemic." Okay, so what's Issyk Kul, and what has it ever played any role in #BlackDeath narratives?
Read 21 tweets
4 Apr 20
@LucyMangan @prof_gabriele @greg_jenner I'll create in a bit a new (short) thread listing the top studies on what we know now about the Black Death. Here, let me respond to two points in the present thread: 1) how historians divide history into "periods"; & 2) "silver linings" interpretations of catastrophes.
@LucyMangan @prof_gabriele @greg_jenner 1) So, did the Black Death end the Middle Ages & usher in the Renaissance? A: it's really hard to get any 2 scholars of the centuries btw ca 1300 & ca 1600 to agree on where to draw the line btw "medieval" & "early modern," or even whether a meaningful line is to be drawn at all.
@LucyMangan @prof_gabriele @greg_jenner So the following answer is just what I do in my own teaching & research. I'm a Europeanist by training & practice, so yes, I think there's a medieval/early modern divide. But more than that, I've moved into #GlobalHistory work the past decade, & that tells me the divide is real.
Read 10 tweets

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