From the Black Death to the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, SARS and Covid-19, epidemic diseases have shaped societies in profound ways. The History of Health, Human Disease and the Environment project (H3DE) will explore the facts and tell the story of infectious disease in the medieval and modern periods in one of the world’s most important cities, the Republic of Venice. We have gained unprecedented access to the recently-excavated mass burials containing victims of disease from the 15th-18th centuries on Lazzaretto Vecchio, site of the world’s first quarantine.

Today we have more tools at our disposal than ever before to detect pathogens in the historical record, to trace their evolution, and understand their impact. Using the latest innovative methods and with access to some of the richest material archives of the past, H3DE will advance our knowledge of a range of illnesses, help us understand their evolution, and assess the complex role of specific environmental factors that contributed to mass mortality events in human history.