Article ID: CBB640432837

The Under-Appreciated Rodent: Harbingers of Plague From the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century (2019)


The history of the rat and the wider rodent family in relation to bubonic plague suggests multiple ways in which different research disciplines can contribute to the understanding of mortality, morbidity, and epidemics in the past: For instance, demographic approaches can can clarify longterm trends in, and disruptions to, patterns of mortality; the study of psychological responses to disease since 1850 can lend insights into past disease behaviors; and archaeological discoveries and the still-developing technology of ancient dna analysis can help in the determination of causes and effects. As the link between the black rat and bubonic plague shows, without the collaboration of interdisciplinary methods, our understanding would surely suffer. The history of plague and the Black Death encompasses far more than the involvement of rats, but the enduring sylvatic reservoirs of plague infection that the rats and their many rodent cousins constituted in the past, and still constitute, should not be blithely discounted.

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Authors & Contributors
Duncan, C J.
Scott, Susan
Höhl, Monika
Bourdelais, Patrice
Keiser, George R.
Erkoreka, Anton
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Histoire des Sciences Médicales
William and Mary Quarterly
Micrologus: Nature, Sciences and Medieval Societies
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Technai, An International Journal for Ancient Science and Technology
Franco Angeli
Cambridge University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
Rowman & Littlefield
Yale University Press
Public health
Disease and diseases
Medicine and society
Argelati, Francesco
Sacchetti, Franco
Malespini, Celio
Sercambi, Giovanni
Boccaccio, Giovanni
Time Periods
Early modern
Qing dynasty (China, 1644-1912)
Mediterranean region

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