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USC anthropologist to discuss medieval plague

January 15, 2013

Anthropologist Sharon DeWitte of the University of South Carolina (USC) will discuss her research and discoveries in "Bring out your dead!: the archaeology of medieval plague," a public lecture scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 5:30 p.m. in the Johnson Auditorium (Room 116, Wall Building) at Coastal Carolina University. The lecture is free and open to the public.

For the past 10 years, DeWitte, assistant professor of anthropology at USC, has explored many aspects of the plague and its effects on humans by examining ancient skeletons, shedding new light on the dark subject of the Black Death.

Nearly a thousand years ago, the Black Death, a form of plague, killed about 30 percent of Europe's population. In some heavily populated areas, the toll was far worse. In London, half the city's people died between 1347 and 1351. Skeletal remains embed information about a person's life, including age, sex, nutrition, health and physical condition. DeWitte compiled a database of more than 600 skeletons of people who died in London during and after the plague years. She is now comparing their health and resilience to a group of people who lived about 200 years earlier in order to address larger questions about health, resistance to disease and the aftereffects of such devastating illnesses.

The Explorations Lecture Series, sponsored by the Center for Archaeology and Anthropology, focuses on what it means to be human through the eyes of people who are doing groundbreaking work in their fields. The series is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Cheryl Ward, director of the center, at or 843-349-6657.


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