The PLAGUE (Plague in Late Antiquity: Gathering the Uncertain Evidence) App

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING BEFORE USING THIS APPLICATION!

This digital application aims to facilitate scholarly analysis in understanding the Justinianic Plague and past scholarship on it. By juxtaposing the primary sources, their claims, the scholarly interpretations of these claims, and contemporary scholarship on plague we hope to provide a resource that will help scholars arrive at an informed and balanced judgment as to whether or not the thin evidence available for plague fits the grand scholarly narratives constructed around it.

To avoid serious misunderstandings of its results through an uncritical use of this app, prospective users should familiarize themselves with the inherent biases of the visual representations that appear in the app here, and the discrepancies between the catalogs that form the basis of the app here. We planned the app to be as user friendly as possible; a comprehensive guide of how to use it will be located here in the future.

The app is experimental in its attempt to push the frontier of historical research forward beyond simple digitization of existing catalogs or creating new ones. Rather, we attempt to convey both the data and the different problems its visualization introduces within a single framework. Our data likely still includes minor errors and mistakes - if you find any, or think we could do a better job in how we display our evidence, please contact us - we’d be glad to continue this conversation!

We stress that the app is a work in progress. As of October 2019, it includes about 90% of the literary sources that mention the Justinianic Plague and the three catalogs that cover it. We have also begun peer-reviewing our entries. Future additions will include material from archaeological excavations, coins, papyri, inscriptions, and aDNA evidence. Developing a robust digital framework that displays each of these different types of sources in a unique nuanced format is time and resource consuming; if you have a collection of evidence that is pertinent to the Justinianic Plague, we would be glad to collaborate - please contact us!

<Note as of Oct. 2019: We are looking for someone who could help us add some of the Arabic sources - if you are interested or know someone who might, please contact us by email to discuss!>

The Justinianic Plague app will be accessible on this page when ready. See below for a couple of images from its current version. For questions and comments please email Lee Mordechai at lmordech@princeton.edu

See here for our team, and here for our sponsors.

 

Screenshots

Basic search view in app:

screenshot from the plague app

Details of one case of plague in a historical text:

screenshot from the plague app

An alternative search - by plague catalog:

screenshot from the plague app