Monthly Archives: September 2012

Introduction – Linda Ehrsam Voigts

I am retired academic who works primarily with Latin and vernacular medical texts from late medieval England. With Patricia Kurtz I am responsible for Scientific and Medical Writings in Old and Middle English (eVK2), a database on 10,000 texts and prologues searchable from the website of the History of Medicine Division of the (U.S.) National Library of Medicine, and through the Resources link at the home page of the Medieval Academy of America. We have also provided an electronic version of Thorndike and Kibre, Incipits of Medieval Scientific Writings in Latin (eTK) on those websites.
At present I am studying, with Ann Payne of the British Library, an English-language household compendium (including university medical treatises) datable to the reign of Henry VII. The section of recipes for members of the royal family contains many recipes, both prophylactic and therapeutic, against the plague.

Linda Ehrsam Voigts

Curators’ Professor of English Emerita
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Kansas City, MO y4110


Rainer Schreg

professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Plague or rather climate?

Audun Dybdahl: Climate and demographic crises in Norway in medieval and early modern times. The Holocene 22 (10), 2012, 1159-1167

The paper claims that the role of the climate for the late medieval crisis in Norway (and more general) has been underestimated.

Rainer Schreg

professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Rainer Schreg – archaeologist

My research interests are in the environmental and social history of past cultural and ecological changes especially within rural cultural landscapes.  Whereas most of my studies deal with villages in medieval Germany, I am also involved in field projects  in Neolithic chert extraction at the Southern Germany, on the medieval landscape in southwestern Crimea and on pre-Columbian and colonial sites in Panama, lower Central America. All these research project highlight specific situations of human-environment interaction.  Periods of fast change are especially informative for a reconstruction of the complex interaction of different drivers.

The 14th century is such an instructive situation of cultural change. It is however no situation of collapse. At least it is no collapse nor from a European or national perspective nor from a rather long-term perspective. The situation may be quite different if we focus on the level of families or small settlements. The 14th c. is an outstanding example, when dealing with an archaeology of crises as it highlights many heuristic problems.

In two articles I dealt with some theoretical aspects:

  • R. Schreg, Die Krisen des späten Mittelalters: Perspektiven, Potentiale und Probleme archäologischer Krisenforschung. In: F. Daim/D. Gronenborn/R. Schreg (Hrsg.), Strategien zum Überleben. RGZM-Tagungen 11 (Mainz 2011)  197-214 (
  • R. Schreg, Feeding the village – Reflections on the ecology and resilience of medieval rural economy. In: J. Klápště (Hrsg.), Processing, Storage, Distribution of Food – Food in Medieval Rural Environment. Ruralia 8 (Turnhout: Brepols 2011) 301-320.

Besides these rather theoretical reconsiderations my interest in the 14th century comes from two ongoing projects on medieval settlement formation: (1) the abandoned settlement of Würzbach in the Black forest and (2) a detailed study of three villages at the Stubersheimer Alb (part of the Suabian Alb north of Ulm).

As I am mainly engaged in medieval archaeology (or even historical archaeology in its European definition) I am especially interested in the interrelation of artefactual, written and pictorial evidence and on interdisciplinary research bringing together sciences and humanities.

I am working at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Mainz, a time-honoured archaeological research institute covering all periods from the palaeolithic up to the early modern period. I also teach at the Universities of Mainz and Tübingen.

Currently I am also experimenting with an archaeological blog, dealing with various topics mainly from critical and environmental archaeology.
For more information on my person see: and

Rainer Schreg

professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Introduction – Fabian Crespo

I am a biological anthropologist interested in human evolutionary immunology. My               primary research interest is to study the potential role of past pathogenic experiences (i.e.: Black Death)  in shaping the immune responses in human populations. Since 2007, I am studying and analyzing the differential expression of immune proteins (cytokines) in human populations, and establishing the potential usefulness of these proteins as markers for future studies of health and human evolutionary history significance. We can expect that protective immune alleles and proteins will show an increased frequency still after the epidemic event is declined or eliminated, and this should be understood as a legacy of that epidemic event. Moreover, we can suggest that if there was an “immunological storm” involved in the immune response during the epidemic event, today’s populations (descendants of those populations exposed to the long lasting pathogenic insult) will still reflect a strong inflammatory response, and one potential consequence (“legacy”) of that is an over-expression of autoimmune and/or chronic inflammatory diseases. Currently, my research agenda deals with an interdisciplinary approach between experimental immunology and bioarchaeological data.

I am looking forward to participating in and following this network that will give me the great opportunity to gain a better and more holistic understanding of the Black Death pandemic.

Introduction – Sharon DeWitte

I am a biological anthropologist in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina. I specialize in paleodemography, paleoepidemiology, and human osteology, and for several years, the focus of my research has been the Black Death.  I am particularly interested in the biological and social factors that affect risks of mortality during epidemics and how epidemics, such as the Black Death, have shaped human biology and demography. I have investigated the mortality patterns of the Black Death using hazard models and skeletal samples from London. Thus far, I’ve found that despite the very high mortality levels of the epidemic, the disease behaved similarly to non-epidemic causes of death by targeting certain individuals, i.e. the elderly and those already in poor health. I am currently examining the context of the emergence of the Black Death (including the effects of famine), and the ways in which the selective mortality of the epidemic affected health and longevity in the post-epidemic population. I am also interested in the molecular biology of the cause of the Black Death and the co-evolution between pathogens and humans in general.

Introduction – Ann Carmichael

I am an historian of medicine and infectious diseases currently finishing a monograph on morbidity and mortality in Sforza-era Milan. While I have written article-length studies involving analysis of fourteenth-century texts and the Black Death, my principal inquiry involves analysis of early civic mortality registers. Secondarily, I am concerned with how we can connect plague experience to general Renaissance political and social history. Because my original training was in medicine, I have long worked on interdisciplinary topics pertinent to this site, but in a slightly later historical period. I focus on urban plague experience and use archival sources.

Introduction – Geneviève Dumas

Dear all,

My name is Geneviève Dumas, professor at University of Sherbrooke, Québec , Canada. My interests range from health history to science and technology around the Mediterranean especially in the urban context.

My research on plague in Montpellier will be published in several chapters of my upcoming book intitled: Santé et Société à Montpellier à la fin du Moyen Âge.

I’m looking forward to exchanging with all of you on this topic.





Introduction – Monica Green

I’m a historian of medieval medicine and also global health. I have been involved the past few years in trying to find ways to connect the narratives of the history of human health that are now emerging from the historicist sciences (bioarcheology and genomics, broadly writ) and traditional historical methods. I have twice conducted a postdoctoral seminar on medieval health and disease at the Wellcome Library in London. My interest in the Black Death is particularly to take the new scientific findings and use them as a foundation for examining the Black Death as a pandemic that affected many regions of Eurasia and North Africa, rather than privileging only its effects in Europe.  I believe, indeed, that both plague and leprosy in the medieval world can be used paradigmatically to study many other issues in global health history.

My latest publication is Monica H. Green, “The Value of Historical Perspective,” in The Ashgate Research Companion to the Globalization of Health, ed. Ted Schrecker (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 17-37. I also work on many non-Black Death related topics in the history of medicine, most extensively now a general history of 12th-century medicine and the School of Salerno.

I am the founder and list manager of MEDMED-L, a listserv for scholars interested in all aspects of premodern history of health and disease.  (To register for MEDMED-L, go to the Web interface page:, click on “Subscribe or Unsubscribe” and follow directions from there.)

Justin Stearns – Contagion in Muslim and Christian Thought

I am assistant professor at New York University – Abu Dhabi. My interest in the Black Death is primarily Muslim and Christian intellectual and social responses to the plague. I have written a book comparing Muslim and Christian understandings of contagion in Iberia(, as well as a short review article on religious responses to the plague
( and continue to work on the plague in the Muslim world.


My interest in the Black Death is primarily Muslim and Christian intellectual and
social responses to the plague. I have written a book comparing Muslim and Christian
understandings of contagion in
Iberia(, as well as a short review article on religious responses to the plague
and continue to work on the plague in the Muslim world.

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Remapping the Black Death in the Age of Genomics and GIS

127th annual meeting of the American Historical Association, January 2013 at New Orleans with abstracts of the papers

Remapping the Black Death in the Age of Genomics and GIS will be an important topic, as many maps showing the spread of the Black Death still use 19th c.’s data collection, which often do not refer to the sources properly. And in many cases they just seem to use evidence of pogroms as a real evidence for the Black Death.

Rainer Schreg

professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Michelle Ziegler — Biology and Public Health

I am an independent researcher interested in the natural history of Yersinia pestis. My training is in biology (MS) and biosecurity and disaster preparedness (MS). I’m interested in microbes from basic microbiology to public health and crisis management, and everything in between. My current focus is on keeping up with plague genomics and learning more about landscape epidemiology. I blog about my research at Contagions and you can find me on twitter @MZiegler3.

Prof. Jan Esper

The 14th century has been identified as a period of global reorganization of climate. Links between major climate changes and widespread disease as well as cultural changes have been proposed. I am interested in the analysis of these climate shifts as well as the association with societal changes and impact.

Geographisches Institut, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz

Gary King – Environmental Archaeologist

I am a Junior Research Fellow at Durham University, UK. My research focuses on the relationship between culture and environment, where I integrate the methods and media of environmental archaeology and archaeological sciences. I am particularly interested in the information that may be gleaned through the study of archaeologically recovered insect, parasite and microbial evidence using proteomics, genetics and comparative morphology. My current and past research has been grounded in the use of biological remains, alongside ethnographic, documentary and material cultural data, to explore topics such as: (1) the colonisation and the creation of new landscapes, followed by their subsequent commodification; and (2) the social and environmental mechanisms involved in the emergence, evolution and transmission of human diseases. Along these lines, I am currently investigating the pathoecology of the Black Death as well as other epidemics.