Launch of the new Black Death Network

The Black Death Network was initially established after a session on the EAA 2012 in Helsinki, Finland to facilitate communication and international exchange of researchers across disciplines. Main focus was the crisis of the 14th century triggered by climatic deterioration followed by crop failures and ultimately the devastating plague pandemic, today known as the Black Death.

In the last decade, not the least stimulated through palaeogenetic studies presenting Yersinia pestis genomes from the Neolithic up to the 18th century, the field of ‘plague studies’ flourished and diversified. During the Annual Conference of the Society for Medieval Archaeology in York 2019 on “The Long Black Death”, the demand for a central platform for plague researchers for exchange, communication and public outreach became apparent. Among different options, it was discussed to make use of the already existing Black Death Network. This idea was brought forward to the original editors, Clare Downham, Kerstin Pasda Rainer Schreg and Richard Thomas, and they generously agreed to open the Black Death Network for plague researchers in general. For this, the editorial team was extended, now including also Sacha Kacki, Marcel Keller and Phil Slavin.

The previous board focus on the 14th century crisis will be maintained as Axis I, dedicated to the climatological, ecological, social, economic and political transformations surrounding events such as the Great Famine of 1315-1317, the St. Mary Magdalene’s flood 1342, and the Black Death 1346-1353. In addition, the history of plague will form Axis II, diachronically approaching the history of plague (as caused by Yersinia pestis) from prehistory and the First Pandemic 541-750 to the early Third Pandemic in the 19th to early 20th century. 


The intersection of both axes and focal point of this blog will be the Black Death. The Black Death Network is open to researchers from a broad variety of disciplines, including but not limited to the ones listed in the figure. To become a member of the Network, please contact one of the admins. You will have to create a profile which allows you to post on the Black Death Network blog. We kindly ask all new members to post a short introduction in the “Researchers” category.

To improve the structure of the blog, we created a number of blog post categories:

  • Publications and Resources
  • In News and Media
  • Conferences and Workshops
  • Lectures and Talks
  • Research projects and groups
  • Research Insights
  • Comment and Opinion
  • Book Reviews

Please contact one of the admins for requests for additional categories. Here you can find short introductions and guidelines for the individual categories. In addition, we will offer curated bibliographies on selected topics which can be found via the top menu. Please contact the editors if you would like to contribute.

On behalf of the editorial team

Sacha Kacki, Marcel Keller, Rainer Schreg, Phil Slavin

Marcel Keller

Co-Editor of the Black Death Network Postdoc in Palaeogenetics at U. of Tartu

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Marcel Keller (May 7, 2020). Launch of the new Black Death Network. The Black Death Network. Retrieved July 20, 2024 from

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