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Dr Rebecca Flemming (Cambridge) Galen and the plague

The Antonine Plague, the great epidemic that first swept across the Roman Empire in AD 165, and recurred in waves over the following decades, is now generally agreed to have been smallpox. This identification has been argued for and assumed in the most recent sustained treatments of the topic and has shaped the lively debates on the demographic and economic impact of the plague. But this move rests on shaky foundations, and this paper will challenge this conclusion, and attempt to take the discussion in some new directions, using the evidence provided by the physician Galen, wider comparative work in historical epidemiology, and recent genomic research into past pathogens.

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Amory C417