An epidemiological analysis of the ten plagues of Egypt

 
 




An  updated and illustrated ebook version of a scientific article by physician-epidemiologist Dr. John S. Marr that originally appeared in print in 1996.
 Website version rated one of 40 "best of the web" in 1998 of over 60,000 sites (Encyclopedia Britannica).  "This brilliant site combines science and detective work together, and an ancient mystery. … Designed in an investigative format, the site offers excellent learning opportunities." (1001 Best Internet Sites for Teachers). The article and website were the basis of a documentary that appeared on the Learning Channel and TV4 in the UK. This updated iBook version for the first decade of the 21st century includes a guide  for classroom use. Available now on Apple's iBookstore Click the image below.

In the second millennium BCE, a series of catastrophes struck the Egyptian civilization during the period known as the New Kingdom. Talmudic and Biblical accounts of these catastrophes refer to them as the ten plagues of Egypt, which were visited upon the Pharaoh and his Egyptian subjects for enslaving the Israelites, led by Moses. The ten plagues of Egypt described in the Book of Exodus are the first example in an historical, written record of what today might be described as an emerging infectious disease.”

Causes and interpretations of the plagues of Egypt have fascinated theologians, historians, Egyptologists, musical composers, scientists, and physicians for centuries. More recently, modern scientific disciplines—epidemiology, epizoology, entomologymicrobiology and toxicology —have attempted to explain exact causes for one or more of these plagues. In recent years, re-interpretations of ancient texts as well as new information about environmental factors and disease causation, have allowed unique interpretations of this series of early public health catastrophes. 


Yet, despite centuries of speculation and study, 

fundamental questions remain.