Debating IR

Probing the philosophical underpinnings of the international system and anything else of interest.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Thucydides in the News

I was reading the news online and Thucydides got a mention. Apparently, reports that the plague that wiped out a third of Athens and changed the balance of power during the Peloponnesian War was typhoid fever. The identity of the plague had been a mystery given Thucydides' unclear description which left a number of possible candidates.

Using DNA from teeth found from an ancient burial pit scientists were able to trace the cause of death to the disease. Apparently, the plague started in Ethiopia and worked its up towards Athens between 430-426 BCE.

The article was pretty interesting although I don't think the disease is the only reason Athens lost. Had they not embarked on that disastrous campaign against Syracuse, where they lost their entire invasion force and a good portion of their fleet, Athens probably could have held out.

Here's the link to the article: Typhoid Fever Behind Fall of Athens


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