#1 Posted by umbrafeline (5217 posts) - - Show Bio

Plague may have helped finish off the Roman Empire, researchers now reveal.

Plague is a fatal disease so infamous that it has become synonymous with any dangerous, widespread contagion. It was linked to one of the first known examples of biological warfare, when Mongols catapulted plague victims into cities.

The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, has been linked with at least two of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. One, the Great Plague, which lasted from the 14th to 17th centuries, included the infamous epidemic known as the Black Death, which may have killed nearly two-thirds of Europe in the mid-1300s. Another, the Modern Plague, struck around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries, beginning in China in the mid-1800s and spreading to Africa, the Americas, Australia, Europe and other parts of Asia. [In Photos: 14th-Century 'Black Death' Graveyard]

Although past studies confirmed this germ was linked with both of these catastrophes, much controversy existed as to whether it also caused the Justinianic Plague of the sixth to eighth centuries. This pandemic, named after the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, killed more than 100 million people. Some historians have suggested it contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire.

To help solve this mystery, scientists investigated ancient DNA from the teeth of 19 different sixth-century skeletons from a medieval graveyard in Bavaria, Germany, of people who apparently succumbed to the Justinianic Plague.

They unambiguously found the plague bacterium Y. pestis there.

"It is always very exciting when we can find out the actual cause of the pestilences of the past," said researcher Barbara Bramanti, an archaeogeneticist at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.

"After such a long time — nearly 1,500 years, one is still able to detect the agent of plague by modern molecular methods," researcher Holger Scholz, a molecular microbiologist at the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology in Munich, Germany, told LiveScience.

The researchers said these findings confirm that the Justinianic Plague crossed the Alps, killing people in what is now Bavaria. Analysis of the DNA suggests that much like the later two pandemics of plague, this first pandemic originated in Asia, "even if historical records say that it arrived first in Africa before spreading to the Mediterranean basin and to Europe," Bramanti told LiveScience.

After the Modern Plague spread worldwide, it became entrenched in many rural areas, and the World Health Organization still reports thousands of cases of plague each year. However, doctors can now treat it with modern antibiotics.

The researchers now hope to reconstruct the whole genome sequence of the plague strain in these ancient teeth to learn more about the disease, Scholz said.

The scientists detailed their findings online May 2 in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

#2 Edited by OmgOmgWtfWtf (7043 posts) - - Show Bio

The Roman Empire fell because it grew too corrupt. If you want a modern interpretation just look at the U.S.

#3 Posted by umbrafeline (5217 posts) - - Show Bio
#4 Edited by Nova`Prime` (4165 posts) - - Show Bio

The multiple sacking of the Eternal City helped.

#5 Posted by InnerVenom123 (29510 posts) - - Show Bio

Duh.

#6 Posted by Betatesthighlander1 (7499 posts) - - Show Bio

The Roman Empire fell because it grew too corrupt. If you want a modern interpretation just look at the U.S.

snap!

@omgomgwtfwtf: and the eu

double snap!

The multiple sacking of the Eternal City helped.

I think we can all agree that multiple factors lead to the downfall of teh Roman empire

#7 Edited by lykopis (10746 posts) - - Show Bio

I did it.

(although the above reasons made it really easy for me)

#8 Posted by Jnr6Lil (7828 posts) - - Show Bio

The Roman Empire fell because it grew too corrupt. If you want a modern interpretation just look at the U.S.

I wouldn't say corruptness, I would say they got too comfortable. 200 years of peace can leave people unable to run an empire.

Though I would say the last few emperors were in rapid succession.

#9 Edited by OmgOmgWtfWtf (7043 posts) - - Show Bio

@jnr6lil: No, the Roman Empire was in no time ever 'peaceful'. The Roman Empire depended on expansion in order to fill its coffers, a mistake that caused them much trouble in the future. Also the evolution from Republic into Empire, though a necessary change due to the dynamics of their ever increasing power in the world, was a doomed one from the start. At first the system went well, you have yourself a good couple of emperors, but then you start getting into the crazy, inbred ones that tend to ruin everything, not to mention the children kings, and the whole entire system fails. Instead you have split factions that vie their way for power, often controlling the emperor in the background, causing massive infighting and civil war. Which is entirely the case for any emperor based system, look at the Japanese, Mayans, Romans, Chinese, etc.

The Romans honored violence and war, one of their chief Patrons was Mars, the very God of War, whom all Roman Emperors considered themselves descendants of him, through Romulus and Remus. The Great Peace (Pax Romana) was merely a period of time where the general public didn't see violence at their doorsteps, instead it was happening in lands faraway from them. With the needs of an ever increasing population growing, the Roman Empire had to constantly expand in order to find new resources. Without the proper bureaucratic system to keep all the necessary logistic afloat, the system crumbled horribly. Sadly this is what happened, the Roman Assemblies (the legislative branch of the Roman Empire) which was set up by the first emperor Augustus, was gone by the time of the second emperor, Tiberius. Instead the power was transferred to the Senate, granting them even more power then before. An issue, ironically, that the Empire was created to entirely solve. They took that power and used to become richer and corruption was widespread by the time of the end of the of Tiberius' reign. The third emperor was assassinated by the Senate because he wanted more power, and it pretty much went downhill from there.

The parallels between the Roman Empire and the American government is almost frightening if you take a closer look at it. Replacing the more arbitrary terms, with their modern counterparts, would provide a near perfect mirrored view of what is happening in America today.

#10 Posted by Jnr6Lil (7828 posts) - - Show Bio

@omgomgwtfwtf: Not saying they were all peaceful but by peace, that means no one was threatening Rome, which made them too comfortable.

Though I like your argument. You don't sound like some person who read this all on wikipedia.