Crossrail bodies unearthed

  Clapton is God 11:08 AM 15 Mar 13
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Do I assume that the skeletons which have been unearthed near Farringdon tube station during the digging for the Crossrail project were passengers kept waiting for a Circle line train? Crossrail

  Quickbeam 11:35 AM 15 Mar 13

The skull in that picture looks to have well preserved teeth, I always thought that at that time everyone's teeth were completely rotten.

Can they reconstruct the Black Death bug/virus (whatever it is) from the DNA?

  Forum Editor 11:50 AM 15 Mar 13

Quickbeam

Bubonic plague is alive and well in some parts of the world today - it's present in America, for instance.

There are three distinct types of plague - Bubonic, septicaemic, snd pneumonic. The variety that caused the death of the people whose remains have been found by the Crossrail team was bubonic plague, which can turn into septicaemic plague if left untreated. Septicaemic plague often results in skin and tissue turning black.

Plague is cause by the Yersinia pestis bacterium, by the way. It's not a viral disease.

There's no vaccine against plague, and no sign of one being available in the forseeable future.

  Quickbeam 11:58 AM 15 Mar 13

That's interesting FE, and I now find that the BBC even has a plague site!

  Forum Editor 12:00 PM 15 Mar 13

I always thought that at that time everyone's teeth were completely rotten.

That's a myth, although there was obviously tooth decay in the population. The incidence of tooth decay is closely linked to sugar consumption, and from the Middle ages onward an increase in tooth decay tended to be related to access to sugar cane. A big risk to teeth would have been the eroding effect of eating bread which contained microscopic particles of grit from the millstones used to make the flour.

  Bing.alau 12:03 PM 15 Mar 13

Yes I always understood that teeth were affected by the introduction to sugar to the diets of human beings.

  Quickbeam 12:06 PM 15 Mar 13

Glenda Jackson's portrayal of QE1 I remember had her with a mouthful of rotten black teeth in her final years.

  Forum Editor 12:42 PM 15 Mar 13

Elizabeth, being the Queen, had access to plenty of sugar, and was known to have a very sweet tooth. The two combined to provide her with a mouthful of tooth decay - something which contributed o her regular bouts of bad temper.

  john bunyan 13:15 PM 15 Mar 13

I hope any plague bacilli are not lurking in these bodies, ready to escape. I heard they were studying the DNA etc so hope we are not in for another Black Death (Although it would please some who believe we are over populated..)

  Forum Editor 16:11 PM 15 Mar 13

john bunyan

Studies have shown that it is unlikely that the plague bacterium can survive in soil for more than 24 days. The DNA study is being carried out in the hope that researchers can determine which specific form of the plague killed these people.

  Aitchbee 19:44 PM 15 Mar 13

" The two combined to provide her with a mouthful of tooth decay - something which contributed o her regular bouts of bad temper."

I can back you up there FE, my mouth was loupin' with pain [toothache] ... luckily my dentist had superior skills and artifacts to nullify the pain in a matter of minutes ... I wonder when the first ancient tooth fillings were put in place?

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