During the last twenty years, archaeozoological research has significantly transformed the picture of the black rat (rattus rattus) in classical antiquity and medieval Europe. These new data, in conjunction with extant texts from these periods, make a great contribution to the understanding of the bubonic plagues of the sixth and the fourteenth centuries, as well as to the history of the communications and economic systems linking the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic. The study of ancient rats and their colonization extends the temporal and geographical groundwork for a fully historical global ecology.

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