Italian Plague Graves Found

Italian Plague Graves Found
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August 29, 2007An aerial view shows Lazzaretto Vecchio, an island south of Italy's Venice, in a photograph recently released to National Geographic News. (See map of Italy).

Ancient mass graves containing skeletons of more than 1,500 bubonic plague victims have been found on the small island. Some of the graves date back to the end of the 15th century.

Plague outbreaks decimated Venice, as well as much of Europe, throughout the 15th and 16th centuries. The plague was spread by fleas, which often fed on infected rats, and then bit people.

The island may represent the world's first "lazaret"a quarantine colony for people with infectious diseases.

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—Photograph courtesy Venice Water Authority - Consorzio Venezia Nuova Archive/Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities - NAUSICAA Archive
 
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