The Mystery of the Black Death

About the Show

Shattering the myths surrounding the most lethal disease in the western world. For years it has been believed that the Black Death, which swept through Europe in the Middle Ages, was bubonic plague. However, in the light of powerful new research its identity has come under scrutiny. Timewatch examines the human impact of the Black Death and the cause and effect of plague. Along the way, surprising evidence is revealed. Historical descriptions of symptoms don't quite match up with plague symptoms, an examination of medieval farm buildings in villages hit by Black Death suggests there were no rats (which spread plague), and attempts to extract traces of plague bacteria from Black Death burial pits fail. So if this epidemic was not bubonic plague, what was it? If we don't know its identity, how can we prevent its return, or cope if it strikes again? This exciting mix of history, archaeology, cutting-edge scientific research and dramatic reconstruction forms a compelling detective story.