The tomb of the believer Sanmaq was engraved with the Syriac language. Pestilence was the cause of his death. One of the victims of the plague was Sanmaq, who was buried near Lake Issyk Kul. At least 118 people from Sanmaq's Central Asian trading community died in the epidemic, according to historian Philip Slavin.

The Black Death devastated Europe a decade after it began. He was aware that the medieval diagnosis ofpestilence included many horrible diseases. Slavin believes it was the beginning of the Black Death. There wasn't a way to prove it.

Slavin is the senior author of a new study that shows that the victims of the Black Death were exposed to the bacterium that caused it. The strain that killed them was the same one that wreaked havoc across Europe a decade later. The researchers propose in this week's edition of Nature that the bacterium jumped from rodents to humans just before the burials.

The place where it all started is called the Wuhan of the Black Death.

It is confirmed that Central Asia is a source of the Black Death strain. There is no doubt that the region is home to a lot of plague-causing organisms.

The Black Death appeared first at ports on the Black Sea. It killed more than half of the population in Europe within a year. Microbiologists blamed Y. pestis in 1894. They have debated where and when the deadly strain was born, considering China, Central Asia, India, and Genghis Khan.

A plague victim’s headstone discovered during the 1886 excavations at Kara-Djigach
A headstone of a “pestilence” victim buried near Lake Issyk KulA. S. Leybin

There were more than 1300 modern and ancient genomes analyzed in 2020. A new software tool was used to sort strains of Y. pestis that were not related to the Black Death strain.

At the time of the Black Death, one branch of the tree exploded in diversity, creating a starlike pattern of four new lines of Y. pestis. The source of the Black Death was one of those lines. The matriarch of this line was the ancestral strain.

The Black Death victims in Europe had different strains of the mother strain from the ancestral one. She says that the European genomes were close to the origin of the Black Death. The closest genetic match to the mother genome was found in rodents. There was no data on strains from human victims.

Slavin talked about the tombstones. When he reported that the people had died ofpestilence, each of them immediately thought of doing a genetic test. There is a recall by Krause.

The Issyk Kul skulls were stored at the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, where the Issyk Kul skulls were found to be contaminated with Y. pestis. The ancient strain that killed them was reconstructed by her.

The evolution of Y. pestis began at the origin of that strain. That was great.

The plague caused the Black Death in people buried near Lake Issyk Kul in the 13th century. Europe was devastated by the bubonic plague.

a map of Europe showing the spread of the bubonic plague
(Map) K. Franklin/Science; (Data) Ole J. Benedictow, The Complete History of the Black Death (2021)

The strain was similar to one found in rodents. The authors think it came over to humans from a marmot, which is abundant in the area. The fleas and other insects they harbor could have been affected by sudden changes in the weather. More rodents and their pests meant more opportunities to hop to a new host--humans--and adapt to it. There are a lot of good possibilities for plague.

The Black Death is thought to have traveled from Central Asia to the Black Sea in an early form of biological warfare.

There are clues in the archaeological records for each grave. Many people were buried with items from the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, and Iran. Rats and fleas are thought to be the likely causes of plague.

The Black Death could be spread by rats, according to a paper in Nature Communications. The ups and downs of black rat populations were traced through the use of ancient DNA in rat bones. When the Roman Empire fell, one population was replaced by another in the 13th century. Black rats and their fleas were abundant on ships that traveled between the Black Sea and Mediterranean ports.

The first known victims of the Black Death are being remembered by the Issyk Kul Graveyard. Sharon De Witte is a bioarchaeologist at the University of South Carolina. We can look at the social factors that may have influenced the risk of death in the first wave.

He is still amazed at the discovery. This was one of the things I wanted to accomplish.