“Palaeoecological Data Indicates Land-Use Changes Across Europe Linked to Spatial Heterogeneity in Mortality During the Black Death Pandemic”
In this article, Timothy Newfield and his co-authors write about their application of a pioneering new approach, ‘big data palaeoecology’ to evaluate the scale of the Black Death’s mortality on a regional scale across Europe using palynological data. They used two independent methods of analysis to evaluate whether the changes we see in the landscape at the time of the Black Death agree with the hypothesis that over half the population died within a few years in 21 historical regions. While they confirmed that the Black Death had a devastating impact in some regions, they found that it had negligible or no impact in others. These inter-regional differences in the Black Death’s mortality across Europe demonstrate the significance of cultural, ecological, economic, societal and climatic factors that mediated the dissemination and impact of the disease.