An international group of scientists found traces of the virus smallpox in the teeth of skeletons of the Vikings, proving that the deadly disease had appeared at least 1400 years ago. This was reported in an article published in the journal Science.
The remains of the virus were found in Denmark, Norway, Russia and the UK, as well as on the island of öland off the East coast of Sweden.
Researchers have determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the genomes of four ancient strains of the smallpox virus and found that their genetic structure is different from the modern strain, destroyed in the XX century. Experts believe that the Vikings, who were travelers and seafarers, were carriers of smallpox and spread the disease throughout Europe and beyond.
Historians believed that smallpox existed 12 thousand years ago, but there was no hard evidence that people have contracted the virus until the seventeenth century. Scientists do not yet know whether the ancient strains of deadly and has the disease immediate cause of the loss of the Vikings. However, it is highly likely that the outbreaks of smallpox occurred in the past.