The disease that was later called the “Black Death” is thought to have originated on the steppes of Central Asia, gradually brought westward along trade routes
Outbreaks of the plague continued for the next three hundred years, including the Great Plague of London in 1665, which killed a quarter of the city’s population. Yet as widespread and deadly as it was, the plague never became a permanent resident of Europe. This and other factors, such as the unusual speed at which it spread and the lack of recorded rat die-offs, suggest to some scientists an Ebola-like hemorrhagic disease was actually responsible.
More than six centuries ago, disaster struck the people of Europe. A deadly plague, traveling west along trade routes from Central Asia, struck the continent with such force it wiped out entire villages and killed as many as twenty-five million people. The “Black Death,” as it was called, not only depopulated Europe but set the stage for profound societal change.
The disease that was later called the “Black Death” is thought to have originated on the steppes of Central Asia, gradually brought westward along trade routes. The first appearance of the plague in Europe was at Genoa in October 1347. One hypothesis is that Italian traders caught the plague during the Mongol siege of the Crimean city of Caffa, where the attackers allegedly hurled the bodies of plague victims over the city walls. The traders fled the city, returning to Genoa with the disease. Within months, 60 percent of the city population was dead.