Aarhus Universitets segl

CSS Studenterkollokvium: Mary Louise Elworth

Understanding the First Plague Pandemic

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Onsdag 9. december 2020,  kl. 14:15 - 15:00




The first bubonic plague pandemic from 541 to 750 CE (also referred to as the Justinianic Plague) has garnered much attention from researchers working in the disciplines of history, archaeology, epidemiology, and molecular biology. The aim of this presentation is to motivate the significance of the Justinianic Plague in terms of social, economic, and political implications as well as to contextualize the pandemic with regard to its contemporary interpretations. To this end, I will compare and contrast the contemporary and modern understandings of this first plague pandemic. Moreover, I will discuss the legitimacy of the Justinianic Plague’s modern diagnosis with particular attention given to the relevant historical sources and the authority of biomedical methods. The dilemma of whether disease should be interpreted as a social or a biological construct raises uncertainty within the historiography of epidemics. Such a dilemma is also reflected in the questions that can be asked in relation to the Justinianic Plague. Current scholarship has sought to not only understand the causes and effects of infectious disease during the period between the mid-sixth to mid-eighth centuries, but also to discuss the limitations and complexities of modern and past disease research.

The colloquium will take place on Zoom: https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/j/66542669940