“A Largely Depopulated Landscape”

Self just discovered that A Short History of Humanity is a translation from the German. The translator is Caroline Waight. Self realized that whenever she reads a novel by a German writer, she automatically assumes it’s a translation, but this is the first scientific work she’s read by a German writer, and the fact that it’s a translation is frankly mind-blowing.

Still on Chapter 5! It’s her favorite chapter, so far.

As migrants from “the Eastern steppe” arrived in Central Europe, one can chart their progress from east to west by the presence of “immense barrows . . . constructed everywhere on the steppe.” These were burial mounds, ranging from two to twenty meters in height, filled with human remains and sometimes “generous grave goods.”

In contrast, in Central Europe itself, “between 5,500 and 5,000 years ago,” the period during which the newcomers are said to have arrived in Central Europe, there are “almost no skeletons and hardly any usable DNA.” What are the reasons for this largely “depopulated landscape”?

People were not fleeing from the new arrivals. Nor have any “mass graves” or battlefields been discovered. On p. 105, Krause makes the dry observation that “the oldest decoded plague genome dates from this period.”

PLAGUE??? Scientists have decoded a plague genome? And it went that far back?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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