Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The Tragic End of the Bronze Age: A Virus Makes History by Tom Slattery

Was a smallpox pandemic responsible for the Dark Age of Greece?: Years ago when Tom Slattery came across a picture of the mummy of Ramses V and noted the smallpox scars, he began to ponder the possibility that a smallpox pandemic may have been the cause of the classical Dark Age that overtook the civilizations of the Mediterranean in the 12th century B.C.E. His research into this possibility is detailed in his book, The Tragic End of the Bronze Age: A Virus Makes History.

Although ancient sources about this period are scarce, Slattery attempts to ascertain the dates of key migrations and defeats using possible references to solar eclipses within the Bible and even Homer that may be pointing to this disease.

"The disease called tsara'at in Hebrew has been translated as 'leprosy.' No one now knows exactly what tsara'at was. The meaning of the word has been lost. But it is clearly a disease that, unlike leprosy, takes very little time to produce death. Tsara'at is described as a disease of 'swelling' (se'et) as used for local inflamations, boils, or mole-like appearances, and 'breaking out' (saphahat) as used for rashes."
Post a Comment