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The Justinianic plague: origins and effects

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 November 2002

PETER SARRIS
Affiliation:
Trinity College, Cambridge.

Abstract

This article addresses the subject of the first well-attested outbreak of bubonic plague in the history of the Mediterranean world – the so-called ‘Justinianic Plague’ of the sixth century. The African origin of the disease is examined and contextualized, whilst recent revisionist arguments in relation to the scale of the depopulation caused by the plague are responded to with reference to the numismatic, legal, and papyrological sources. The numismatic evidence in particular points to a major crisis in imperial finances for which large-scale depopulation would be the most likely cause. The legal and papyrological sources record how both landowners and the imperial authorities responded to this situation.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2002 Cambridge University Press

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