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Spatial Modeling of the Black Death in Sweden

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The purpose of this work is to determine whether spatial modeling can be used to model the spread of the Black Death. The study is limited to models for the propagation of the disease in Sweden in 1350. Geographic data of Swedish water bodies and medieval road networks, historical data on the population in Swedish parishes, including their medieval boundaries, along with historical notes and disease characteristics, were used to build alternative models for spatial distribution. Three different models are presented: one radial, one cost‐based and one combining network analysis and radial propagation. Simulations were made to depict different scenarios on the spread of the disease, as well as the drastic changes in the overall population of Sweden, over a couple of hundred years. For purpose of validation the population decrease estimated in each parish is compared with independent historical documents. Results from model scenarios are visualized in maps of propagation, animated video sequences and a web map service. Our analyses clearly demonstrate the power of spatial analysis and geographic information systems to describe, model and visualize epidemiologic processes in space and time.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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