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Epidemics in Venice: On the Small or Large Nature of the Pre-modern World

Abstract : Marvel et al. [12] recently argued that the pre-modern contact world was physically and, by set inclusion, socially not small-world. Since the Black Death and similar plagues used to spread in well-defined waves, the argument goes, the underlying contact network could not have been small-world. I counter here that small-world contact networks were likely to exist in pre-modern times in a setting of the greatest importance for the outbreak of epidemics: urban environments. I show this by running epidemic diffusion simulations on the transportation network of Venice, verifying how such network becomes small-world when we account for naval transportation. Large epidemic outbreaks might not have been even possible without the catalyst of urban small-worlds.
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Giovanni Colavizza. Epidemics in Venice: On the Small or Large Nature of the Pre-modern World. 2nd International Workshop on Computational History and Data-Driven Humanities (CHDDH), May 2016, Dublin, Ireland. pp.33-40, ⟨10.1007/978-3-319-46224-0_4⟩. ⟨hal-01616300⟩

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