Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Typhoid Fever Led To The Fall Of Athens

Date:
January 23, 2006
Source:
Elsevier
Summary:
Scientists have for many years debated the cause of the Plague of Athens. Analysis carried out by Manolis Papagrigorakis and colleagues using DNA collected from teeth from an ancient Greek burial pit points to typhoid fever as the disease responsible for this devastating epidemic. The study appears on the online version of The International Journal of Infectious Diseases (IJID) published by Elsevier on behalf of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

Scientists have for many years debated the cause of the Plague of Athens. Analysis carried out by Manolis Papagrigorakis and colleagues using DNA collected from teeth from an ancient Greek burial pit points to typhoid fever as the disease responsible for this devastating epidemic. The study appears on the online version of The International Journal of Infectious Diseases (IJID) published by Elsevier on behalf of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

Related Articles


The plague that began in Ethiopia and passed through Egypt and Libya to Greece in 430-426 B.C. changed the balance of power between Athens and Sparta, ending the Golden Age of Pericles and Athenian dominance in the ancient world. It is thought that up to one third of the Athenians, including their charismatic leader, Pericles, perished in the epidemic.

Until now our understanding of this outbreak was based on the account by the fifth century B.C. Greek historian Thucydides, who himself was taken ill with the plague but recovered. Despite Thucydides’ detailed description, researchers have not managed to agree on the identity of the plague and several diseases, including bubonic plague, smallpox, anthrax and measles have been implicated in the emergence and spread of this epidemic.

A mass burial pit unearthed in the Kerameikos ancient cemetery of Athens and dated back to the time of the historical outbreak, provided the required skeletal material for the investigation of ancient microbial DNA. Aided by modern DNA recovery and amplification techniques, Papagigorakis et al used dental pulp to identify DNA sequences similar to those of the modern day Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, the organism that causes typhoid fever. The results of this study point to typhoid fever as the probable cause of the Plague of Athens.

Typhoid fever is transmitted by contaminated food or water, and nowadays the disease is most common in developing countries and in travellers returning from these countries.

Corresponding author Dr Manolis J Papagrigorakis of the University of Athens says: “Studying the historical aspects of infectious diseases can be a powerful tool for several disciplines to learn from. We believe this report to be of outstanding importance for many scientific fields, since it sheds light to one of the most debated enigmas in medical history.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Elsevier. "Typhoid Fever Led To The Fall Of Athens." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 January 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060123163827.htm>.
Elsevier. (2006, January 23). Typhoid Fever Led To The Fall Of Athens. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060123163827.htm
Elsevier. "Typhoid Fever Led To The Fall Of Athens." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060123163827.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Fossils & Ruins News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Ruins Thought To Be Port Actually Buried Greek City

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) Media is calling it an "underwater Pompeii." Researchers have found ruins off the coast of Delos. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amphipolis Tomb Architraves Reveal Faces

Amphipolis Tomb Architraves Reveal Faces

AFP (Nov. 22, 2014) Faces in an area of mosaics is the latest find by archaeologists at a recently discovered tomb dating back to fourth century BC and the time of Alexander the Great in Greece. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
US Returns Looted Artifacts to Thailand

US Returns Looted Artifacts to Thailand

AFP (Nov. 19, 2014) The United States has returns over 500 vases, bowls, axes, and other ancient artifacts mostly from the Ban Chiang archaeological site which were illegally looted from Thailand decades ago. Duration: 01:13 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins