By examining pottery remains in over 50 rural settlements, archaeologists now better understand the extent that the population was wiped out by the plague
The Black Death, an outbreak of bubonic plague that devastated Europe and Asia between 1346 and 1353, is considered one of the greatest cataclysms of all time. The disease, caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis and transmitted by fleas, wiped out half the population according to contemporary accounts.
The famous Italian poet Francesco Petrarch told a friend that he did not think people in the future would even believe their suffering. ‘O happy posterity,” he wrote after watching half the city of Florence die, “who will not experience such abysmal woe and will look upon our testimony as a fable.’
As it turns out, Petrarch was partially right. No one disputes that the Black Death happened or that it was a society-reordering disaster. But, as Sarah Kaplan reports in The Washington Post, researchers haven’t had much to go on to confirm the claims that a quarter to half of Europe’s population perished because of the plague. Compared to modern plagues, like the Spanish flu in the early 20th century, which killed about 3 percent of the world’s population, the number killed by the Black Death seemed high.
That’s one reason archaeologist Carenza Lewis of the University of Lincoln decided to dig a little deeper. She excavated 2,000 one-meter-square pits in 55 rural settlements occupied before and after the plague across eastern Britain, looking for the concentration of pottery shards, broken bits of everyday pottery.
“Under every village, every community, there is a huge reservoir of archaeological evidence just sitting there,” she tells Kaplan. “Evidence of these life-shattering events that people like us would have lived through — or not.”
Her findings, which will appear in Antiquity Journal, show that in many places the pot shards are plentiful in pre-plague layers, while in the time after the disease they seriously diminish. According to Maev Kennedy at The Guardian, the overall decline was about 44.7 percent. The devastation was not equal, though, with places in England like Norfolk showing a 65 percent decline and Gaywood and Paston showing up to 85 percent drops. Kennedy points out that the numbers are likely conservative since villages that were totally wiped out or abandoned because of the Black Death were not sampled.
Lewis tells Kennedy it was devastation on “an eye-watering scale” and that a population boom in later centuries masked the true toll. She points to villages like Great Shelford in Cambridgeshire. Before the plague the village stretched two-thirds of a mile along a main street. After the plague, the survivors all fit into a row of houses next to the church. Emily Reynolds at Wired UK writes that the pottery evidence shows that many of the towns examined remained 35 to 55 percent below pre-Black Death population levels well into the 16th century.
Luckily for us, the strain of Yersinia pestis that caused the Black Death was a novel mutation of the bacteria, and has since disappeared. But Lewis thinks the world should still be cautious. In a line from her upcoming paper that Kennedy shares, Lewis writes, “This disease is still endemic in parts of today’s world, and could once again become a major killer, should resistance to the antibiotics now used to treat it spread amongst tomorrow’s bacteriological descendants of the fourteenth-century Yersinia pestis. We have been warned.”
Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space
Would you pay $1200 a month for a bunk bed in a shared space? Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are opting for pods in communal home with a desk, locker and personal TV
With the cost of rent continuing to rise, some Americans are taking unusual measures to find a place to sleep.
PodShare, which provides 10 to 15 co-ed bunkbeds in six locations across California, is hoping to help solve the affordable housing crisis.
The beds can be rented from $35 to $50 a night, which amounts to between $1,050 and $1500 for one month.
It’s no secret that housing prices have rapidly spiked over the last decade and incomes have not kept up
One 2018 study published found that only about one-third of millennials currently own homes.
This is fewer than the number of Generation Xers and baby boomers who owned homes when they were the same age.
And a study conducted by Harvard University this year found that one-in-three Americans can’t afford to pay rent.
It’s unsurprising considering that, in cities such as San Francisco, the average rent for an apartment is about $3,900.
But for $1,200, if you rent with PodShare everyone gets a bed that turns into a desk, individual power outlets, a locker, a shelf and a personal TV.
Each location also provides a communal living room, food such as cereal, toiletries such as toilet paper, laundry machines and WiFi access, reported CNN.
Tenants are known as ‘pod-estrians’.
Although the set-up may seem like an adult dormitory or a hostel, the company uses the term ‘co-living’.
‘PodShare makes life more affordable because there is no security deposit or cost of furnishings and we provide flexible living,’ co-founder Elvina Beck told Vice in 2016.
‘Pod life is the future for singles which are not looking to settle down, but focus on their startups and experience something new.’
There are no curtains to close off the beds, and the only doors are to the bathroom, reported Time Out Los Angeles.
Although there’s no privacy, pod-residents are willing to exchange that for affordability or a reduced travel time to work.
Beck, 34, told CNN that she founded the company in 2012 because she wanted to meet new people and provide housing security to others.
‘Maybe they don’t have two months’ rent to put down or they don’t have proof of income,’ she said.
‘Whether it’s from a divorce or their family kicked them out for being gay or because they’re in a different country or a different city.’
She told CNN that, when she began PodShare, most residents were between ages 24 and 30. Today, however, most ‘tenants’ are in their late 20s or early 30s.
Additionally, many of the early residents were young adults who had just moved to a new city. But many new residents are older adults and even those traveling on business.
However, there some rules that people are required to follow. Lights have to be off by 10pm, no guests are allowed and tenants can’t have sex.
‘You can’t invite any friends over,’ Beck told CNN. ‘Sorry. Just make new ones here.’
Caretaker Ties a Wheelchair-Bound Pensioner to a Tree by The Neck
Shocking footage of a wheelchair-bound pensioner being tied to a tree by the neck by a caretaker has sparked controversy in China.
The caretaker claimed to have no other way but to bind her frail client with a rope because she had to rush back home to deal with family emergency.
Furious onlookers demanded the caretaker free the pensioner immediately. The domestic worker defended her act by calling the incident ‘no big deal’.
The pensioner appeared extremely distressed throughout the video and could not speak clearly.
One angry male passer-by accused the caretaker: ‘How would you feel if your daughter treated you like this?’
He criticised the caretaker and said she should bring the pensioner with her.
The caretaker replied: ‘[If I had] pushed her back, she would tell [on me].’
Another female bystander pointed out that the pensioner neck had turned red because of the rough treatment.
After being lambasted by eyewitnesses, the caretaker untied the pensioner and pushed her away.
Authority said the clip had been uploaded onto the social media by residents in a neighbourhood called Nanyuan on the outskirts of southern Beijing.
But they had not been able to identify the exact location of the incident or track down the individuals involved.
Police have been alerted of the video and launched an investigation, according to Beijing Evening News.
Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition
“Calming the Canines,” at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC), is a new Independence Day tradition.
Last year, over 300 people from the community showed up at the shelter’s two locations around Phoenix, Arizona.
It was overwhelming to see how the community responded. It really helped spread our message that MCACC is here to help.
Amy Engel, who attended Calming the Canines last year said that she definitely plans on attending this year, too.
Engel wrote about her experience last year
Some people sang to them, some people read to them, some people just sat there and gave treats! It was so, so awesome because the dogs absolutely love the attention and were focused on the people and not the fireworks going on outside.
Many participants developed lasting relationships with the shelter, returning to provide foster care, adopt a pet or volunteer.
The shelter suggests people to bring blankets to sit on, or folding chairs, and to let the dog or cat approach them to sit calmly and quietly.
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