(p. D4) Historians and microbiologists alike have searched for decades for the origins of plague. Until now, the first clear evidence of Yersinia pestis infection was the Plague of Justinian in the 6th century, which severely weakened the Byzantine Empire.
But in a new study, published on Thursday [Oct. 22, 2015] in the journal Cell, researchers report that the bacterium was infecting people as long as 5,000 years ago.
For the full story, see:
“Archaeology: Plagues Said to Have Hit During Bronze Age.” The New York Times (Tues., OCT. 27, 2015): D4.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the much shorter online version of the story has the date OCT. 22 (sic), 2015, and has the title “In Ancient DNA, Evidence of Plague Much Earlier Than Previously Known.” The passage quoted above is from the online version.)
The academic article mentioned in the passages quoted above, is:
Rasmussen, Simon, Morten Erik Allentoft, Kasper Nielsen, Ludovic Orlando, Martin Sikora, Karl-Göran Sjögren, Anders Gorm Pedersen, Mikkel Schubert, Alex Van Dam, Christian Moliin Outzen Kapel, Henrik Bjørn Nielsen, Søren Brunak, Pavel Avetisyan, Andrey Epimakhov, Mikhail Viktorovich Khalyapin, Artak Gnuni, Aivar Kriiska, Irena Lasak, Mait Metspalu, Vyacheslav Moiseyev, Andrei Gromov, Dalia Pokutta, Lehti Saag, Liivi Varul, Levon Yepiskoposyan, Thomas Sicheritz-Pontén, Robert A Foley, Marta Mirazón Lahr, Rasmus Nielsen, Kristian Kristiansen, and Eske Willerslev. “Early Divergent Strains of Yersinia Pestis in Eurasia 5,000 Years Ago.” Cell 163, no. 3 (Oct. 2015): 571-82.