•  
  •  
 

Abstract

The work of Cui et al. (2013)—in both dating the polytomy that produced most existing strains of Yersinia pestis and locating its original home to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau—offers a genetically derived specific historical proposition for historians of East and Central Asia to investigate from their own sources. The present article offers the hypothesis that the polytomy manifests itself in the Mongol invasion of the Xia state in the Gansu corridor in the early thirteenth century and continues in the Mongols’ expansion into China and other parts of Eurasia. The hypothesis relies to a considerable extent on work of Cao Shuji (1995), but argues for a different means and direction for the spread of plague than either Cao or William McNeill have previously posited.