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30 August 2014

At http://news.sciencemag.org/archaeology/2014/08/strange-history-north-ame… … it seems archaeologists are trying to make sense of various Arctic migration patterns across the top of N America. We are told, a culture known as Palaeo-Eskimo, lived in the region between 5000 years ago and 700 years ago. These appear to be the people catalogued by Moe Mandelkehr in one of his SIS articles, bringing our attention to geographically long migrations in the wake of his 2300BC event.

Their presence is accepted but the manner of their disappearance is said to be a mystery. The possibility of an epidemic is not ruled out – but no mention of the Black Death (14th century). It is assumed bubonic plague was spread by human contact – so is not on the chopping block of viable explanations. However, it is worth mentioning that Mike Baillie, in one of his books, posed the possibility the Black Death struck so rapidly because it had a cosmic element in its dispersal.

In this paper, the culture first appeared around 3000BC, presumably in the east. Mandelkehr was more intent on its rapid dispersal than on its origins, very quickly moving from one side of N America to the other. This too is a mystery – but unmentioned in the paper.

Another puzzle is the arrival of modern Eskimos – or the Thule culture. This occurred around the same time the other group disappeared but no evidence of a violent clash has been found, and neither are there obvious genetic similarities. One group disappeared – another group expanded to take their place. Where did the Thule people originate? Could they have been on the move in order to outflank some kind of disaster in their homeland?

The plague is supposed to thrive in hot and warm conditions. However, it was endemic across the steppe zone from Ukraine to Kazakhstan (and further east) which can be very cold in the winter. It may also have struck the even cooler Mongolian heartland – as it brought the Mongol empire to an end. Is it just a coincidence the Palaeo-Eskimos went extinct very close to the outbreak of the Black Death?

Well, it might be as there were also some strange things going on prior to the Black Death – also dated to the 13th century. Roger of Wendover made a catalogue of strange happenings that we may connect with meteors and other transient phenomena. Meteoric activity and auroral phenomena may have played a role in the disappearance of one group and the appearance of another – drawn by what was happening in the sky. We never got to the bottom of what was happening in the 13th century – but what may have been mostly harmless in Europe may have been somewhat disastrous at the top of the world. It is also worth mentioning the 13th century is also associated with decline and turmoil in other parts of the Americas – the pueblo culture is an example.

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