The Justinianic Plague: An inconsequential pandemic?
by Lee Mordechai, et al
The Justinianic Plague (circa 541 to 750 CE) has recently featured prominently in scholarly and popular discussions. Current consensus accepts that it resulted in the deaths of between a quarter and half of the population of the Mediterranean, playing a key role in the fall of the Roman Empire. Our contribution argues that earlier estimates are founded on a small subset of textual evidence and are not supported by many other independent types of evidence (e.g., papyri, coins, inscriptions, and pollen archaeology). We, therefore, conclude that earlier analyses of the mortality and social effects of the plague are exaggerated and that the nontextual evidence suggests the plague did not play a significant role in the transformation of the Mediterranean world or Europe.