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Thread: Disaster Recovery: New Archaeological Evidence for the Long-term Impact of the ‘calamitous’ Fourteenth Century

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Disaster Recovery: New Archaeological Evidence for the Long-term Impact of the ‘calamitous’ Fourteenth Century

    After the Black Death the population density was around 45% lower.

    https://journals.cambridge.org/actio...03598X16000697

    The Black Death swept across Europe and Asia in the fourteenth century, killing millions and devastating communities. Recent re-evaluations of source data, the discovery of new plague cemeteries and advances in genotyping have caused scholars to reconsider the extent of the devastation and to revise estimated mortality rates upwards. But what was the true impact of this catastrophic episode? Systematic test-pitting can reveal changes in medieval demography that can be both quantified and mapped at a range of scales. Comparing the relative amounts of high medieval (copious) to late medieval (much scarcer) pottery suggests that the pottery-using population across eastern England was around 45% lower in the centuries after the Black Death than before, and such comparison identifies exactly where this contraction was the most and least severely felt.

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    That and population density coupled with, poorer hygiene in cities, more frequent trading and travelling with foreign shores was actually part of the problem and helped spread the disease, not too dissimilar from what we see today with our 'eradicated' diseases making a comeback from migratory populations, density in cities and their less than hygienic cultural living standards.

    What we had after that was the beginnings of the dissolution of the established feudal system and the rise of the le merchant in the 15th C as it created vast labour shortages.

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    Write-up:
    Scraps of broken pottery from test pits dug by thousands of members of the public have revealed the devastating impact of the Black Death in England, not just in the years 1346 to 1351 when the epidemic ripped Europe apart, but for decades or even centuries afterwards.

    The quantity of sherds of everyday domestic pottery - the most common of archaeological finds - is a good indicator of the human population because of its widespread daily use, and the ease with which it can be broken and thrown away. By digging standard-sized test pits, then counting and comparing the broken pottery by number and weight from different date levels, a pattern emerges of humans living on a particular site.

    Professor Carenza Lewis has analysed of tens of thousands of bits of datable broken pottery, excavated from almost 2,000 test pits in eastern England. The sherds, taken from the levels relating to the periods before and after the Black Death, suggest a population collapse of around 45%. In some areas, such as Binham in Norwich where there was a 71% fall in the amount of pottery, the figure is much worse.

    Lewis, famous from her years on Time Team, now professor of public understanding of research at the University of Lincoln, has used the data to map the aftermath of the Black Death She reports her findings in next month’s Antiquity journal.

    Lewis says that the devastation of the Black Death, regarded as exaggerated by some 20th century historians, was actually “on an eye-watering scale”. Its true extent, she believes, was masked by eventual post-medieval regrowth.
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/...gland-revealed

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