Who we are

The Black Death Network originally arose from a conference session held at EAA2012 in Helsinki, Finland. It was extended after the Annual Conference of the Society for Medieval Archaeology in 2019 on the “Long Black Death”  in York, UK.

The editorial team comprises:

Clare Downham (Lecturer in Irish Studies, University of Liverpool, UK)
Clare was a student at St Andrews and Cambridge. She worked as a research scholar in Dublin and as a lecturer in Celtic and History in Aberdeen before starting at Liverpool in 2010. She has published a book and a number of articles on Viking Age history. Her research interests focus on religious and political contacts across the Irish Sea, the writings of Jocelin of Furness and currently on the historical ecology of the Black Death.
For more information see: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/irish-studies/staff/clare-downham/

Sacha Kacki (CNRS, UMR 5199 PACEA, University of Bordeaux, France)
Sacha is a bioarchaeologist with research interests in skeletal pathology and history of ancient epidemics. His work focuses on the biological and archaeological evidence for plague and plague cemeteries. Sacha has been involved in the archaeological excavation and anthropological study of a number of European mass graves, and he has contributed to several research projects which have confirmed the presence of the pathogen Yersinia pestis among medieval populations and clarified the nature of the pathogen. His work also considers the demographic impact of plague epidemics and how contemporaries disposed of its victims thus shedding further light on the occurrence and impact of the disease.
For more information see: https://cnrs.academia.edu/SachaKacki

Marcel Keller (Estonian Biocentre, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu)
Marcel studied biology and specialised in archaeogenomics. He wrote his PhD thesis at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (Jena, Germany) on the reconstruction of Yersinia pestis genomes of the First and Second Pandemic. His research interests focuses on the history of infectious diseases and human health, and more broadly on interdisciplinary approaches to reconstruct the human past.
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Kerstin Pasda (Institut für Paläoanatomie und Geschichte der Tiermedizin, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany)
Kerstin is zooarchaeologist with research interests in changing human-animal relations in historic-period societies in Germany and in Greenland. She was involved in a research project exploring the impact of the Black Death on livestock size in Germany. She teaches at Erlangen university.
For more information see: https://www.uf.phil.fau.de/das-team/pd-dr-habil-kerstin-pasda/

Rainer Schreg (professor in medieval and postmedieval Archaeology, Bamberg university D)
Rainer’s research interests are in past cultural changes especially within rural cultural landscapes.  Whereas most of his studies deal with villages in medieval Southern Germany, he also runs field projects in Neolithic chert extraction at the Swabian Alb, on the medieval landscape in southwestern Crimea, a 6th c. town in Southern Serbia and on a  pre-Columbian and colonial site in Panama, lower Central America.
His 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). The area near Stubersheim belongs to a landscape with the highest rates of abandoned settlements in Germany. Analysis of private collections, fieldwalking, geophysical prospection, small scale excavation and written sources allow deep insights in the process of village formation and landscape changes.
Throughout his research, Rainer strives towards a theoretical framework in human ecology and environmental history integrating data from different disciplines.
Rainer holds the chair of medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university. Until 2017 he worked at the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum at Mainz. He blogs on http://archaeologik.blogspot.de/.
For more information see: https://bamberg.academia.edu/RainerSchreg

eMail: rainer.schregATuni-bamberg.de

Phil Slavin (Associate Professor of Medieval and Environmental History, Division of History and Politics, University of Stirling, Scotland, UK)

Although trained as a medieval economic and environmental historians, rather than seeing himself as an historian in the ‘traditional’ sense, Phil views himself as a scientist of the past. His research methodology is inherently trans-disciplinary, deploying a wide range of research techniques and methodological approaches of humanities, social and life sciences, and making the best of a scientific collaboration with his colleagues across disciplines, to enhance our understanding of the past and present.

In his research, Phil uses historical knowledge as a powerful tool to understand some of the most important issues and challenges that humankind and its wider bio-ecological environment face today. His research interests fall, broadly speaking, into two main fields. Firstly, he is interested in the history of natural environment, economy, health and society of pre-Industrial Eurasia and in the intersection of these ‘four great pillars’ of history. In particular, I am interested in the following historical topics: (1) food security and famines; (2) emerging diseases; (3) environmental disasters; (4) socio-economic inequality. Secondly, in recent years, he had expanded his interests in these topics to a global ‘deep history’ perspective, all the way from early hunters-gatherers to our contemporary world.

Phil has published extensively on various aspects of the Fourteenth Century Crisis, including famine, climate change, animal epizootics and human plague outbreaks. His most recent book Experiencing Famine in Fourteenth-Century Britain is dealing with the Great European Famine of 1315-7 (http://www.brepols.net/Pages/ShowProduct.aspx?prod_id=IS-9782503547800-1). His ongoing research focuses on plague outbreaks in the pre-Industrial world.

For more information, see https://www.stir.ac.uk/people/951608 and https://stir.academia.edu/PhilipSlavin

Richard Thomas (Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester, UK)

Richard specialises in zooarchaeology (the study of animal bones from archaeological sites). His current and past research has two main strands: (1) the reconstruction of past human-animal relationships, predominantly in the later medieval and early modern period; and (2) palaeopathology – the study of animal health and disease in the past. The impact of the Black Death and the earlier disasters of the 14th century is one of his key research themes. By bringing together zooarchaeological, documentary and biomolecular evidence, his research has shed new light on the 14th-century crises on agricultural practice, diet and hunting.
For more information see: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/archaeology/people/thomas; https://www.facebook.com/UoLBoneLab; http://leicester.academia.edu/RichardThomas; or follow on Twitter @AnimalBones

Rainer Schreg

archaeologist professor in medieval and postmedieval archaeology at Bamberg university

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Interdisciplinary approaches to the 14th century crisis and the history of plague

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