Scientists test skeletons for Black Death bacteria

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Associated Press

Posted on March 15, 2013 at 5:07 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 15 at 8:05 AM

LONDON (AP) — Scientists digging a new railway in London have uncovered 13 skeletons that will be tested to see if they died from the Black Death plague in the 14th century.

The lead archaeologist of the Crossrail project, Jay Carver, says the location of the bodies and historical records suggest that the skeletons were found in a burial ground that opened at the start of the plague. Carver says scientists will study the bones to establish cause of death, and hope to map the DNA signature of the plague bacteria.

The plague began ravaging Europe in 1347, spreading quickly and killing an estimated 30 percent to 60 percent of the European population. Some 75 million people in all are believed to have died in the four-year pandemic, including 25 million Europeans.

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