Tag Archives: Mongolia

Biological warfare

Let’s zoom in on the western chunk of the Mongolian Empire—where the Ukraine is now. Caffa was a trading port on the northern shore of the Black Sea used by merchants from Genoa, Italy. The Khan allowed them to build the port. It was protected by 2 walls, one inside the other. The Genovese traded with people throughout the Mongolian Empire who came to Caffa by the Silk Road. They made a nice living.
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Feodosia/@45.0519847,26.4132688,5z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x40eb858afb281d9b:0x3c1c98ca88a2653e!8m2!3d45.031933!4d35.382433

Caffa was a cosmopolitan city, full of people of different religions and cultures. I suppose it was bound to happen that religions and cultures would clash; sure enough there was a brawl between 2 disagreeing factions that escalated into a riot. The Khan decided to settle the riot with his army but somebody had barred the city gates and he couldn’t get in. So he put Caffa under siege. A siege is when you use an army to trap your enemy inside a walled town. You don’t let them out and they eventually run out of food and water. The Mongols were on the outside and the Genovese were on the inside. The Mongols decided to use a never-tried-before secret weapon. They had cartloads of dead bodies infected with bubonic plague. The Mongols catapulted the infected bodies over the walls and into Caffa where no one was wearing masks or social-distancing or sneezing into their elbows. Soon after that, people in Caffa started to drop dead. The Genovese traders took a look around, said “arrivederci” and jumped onto their ships headed back to Sicily and Italy. Of course, they were already infected and took the plague with them. From there, rats and fleas and the plague spread throughout Europe. This was the Black Death. An estimated 25-30 million people in Europe died from bubonic plague.

https://www.worldhistory.org/Black_Death/
https://www.warhistoryonline.com/instant-articles/mongol-siege-caffa-black-plague.html
https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/8/9/01-0536_article
I’ve recommended Justinian’s Flea before and I’ll do it again: http://www.justiniansflea.com/
The plague came back more than once—people got reinfected because no one figured out where it came from. I read DeFoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year (1665) in my youth during subway commutes in New York City. It was summertime, and every time the subway doors opened a blast of hot hobo-pee-smelling air whooshed into the car. It was the perfect accompaniment for reading about the plague. https://www.gutenberg.org/files/376/376-h/376-h.htm
Rats (my buddy Pastor Trip recommended this one to me) zeroes in on rats living in New York City right now: https://www.amazon.com/Rats-Observations-History-Unwanted-Inhabitants/dp/1582344779
https://benjaminzlee001.wixsite.com/catapults/trebuchet

Rats and fleas

Living conditions in the big cities of the Mongolian Empire were no better than in the Holy Roman Empire. Mediæval cities literally stunk from all the pee and poop. Wherever you get a lot of people living closely together you’ll also find rats. Why not? Rats gotta eat and there’s always kitchen trash around wherever people are. The good thing was: rats got rid of a lot of garbage by eating it. The bad thing was: rats had fleas. The worse thing was: rats and fleas carried bubonic plague bacteria.

People who didn’t take baths much had fleas, too. A flea who’d bitten a rat with the plague might jump onto a human being and bite him. By the mid-1300s, Mongolian traders carried fleas and plague bacteria east and west along the Silk Road. Plaguey rats and their fleas hitched rides on grain-laden caravans. Everywhere traders went, they spread bubonic plague.

Study hard, pay attention in class and you may land a job looking at 2,000-year-old turds: https://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/2000-year-old-feces-silk-road-reveal-spread-infectious-diseases-006326
https://www.wearewater.org/en/sewage-the-trace-of-our-history_281141
https://www.quora.com/How-did-the-Roman-sewage-system-become-unutilized-during-the-Middle-Ages-in-Europe-People-during-that-time-were-literally-throwing-their-wastes-out-of-their-windows-and-into-the-streets
https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1001550/seats%2C-squats%2C-and-leaves-a-brief-history-of-chinese-toilets

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

The Mongolian Empire!

JEN- giss KHAN (soft-G, hard-G, throat-clearing-K)

Let’s take a look outside of the Holy Roman Empire for a moment. At the end of the ad 1200s the ferocious and wily Mongol warrior Genghis Khan conquered everything and everywhere from the Pacific Ocean to eastern Europe. He was able to coordinate his cavalry to make lightning-quick attacks on much larger armies—seeming to strike everywhere at once—and beat them. Genghis Khan formed alliances with tribal leaders across all of Asia. The Mongolian Empire was huge, gang.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fdVhGeOsfQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUVvTqvjUaM
https://www.worldhistory.org/Golden_Horde/
I can’t tell exactly who invented the stirrup, or when, but without stirrups there’d be no Mongolian cavalry to conquer Asia nor knights to support the feudal system in Europe. http://en.chinaculture.org/created/2005-07/21/content_70825.htm

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