Great Plagues of the Past and Remaining Questions

  • Cheston B. Cunha
  • Burke A. Cunha

Due to the difficulty of obtaining tissue samples from victims of the ancient plagues, it is not always possible to utilise palaeomicrobiology techniques to determine the etiology of ancient infection. Therefore, it is often necessary to utilise other means to arrive at a likely diagnosis. The most helpful of these is the literary description of the disease. While this is often the best evidence available, working with such documents can prove difficult. Three great plagues of the ancient world, the Plague of Athens, the Antonine Plague, and the Justiniac Plague are described in either Latin or ancient Greek. The difficulties encountered when translating any ancient foreign language are compounded by the fact that so many words in these languages have a variety of meanings. This chapter reviews the three great plagues of antiquity from a clinical perspective.


Typhoid Fever Dental Pulp Mass Grave Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Yersinia Pestis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheston B. Cunha
    • 1
  • Burke A. Cunha
    • 2
  1. 1.The Pennsylvania State University College of MedicineHersheyUSA
  2. 2.Infectious Disease DivisionWinthrop-University HospitalMineolaUSA

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