William McNeill's ground breaking seminal book (Plagues & Peoples) is a cogent account of archaic, mythological civilizations beginning to congregate after the achievement of planting, the single most advanced achievement of neolithic man. Epidemic diseases flourished throughout neolithic periods with the propensity for large homogenized concentrations of peoples in tight quarters with pestilence ridden animals created the vortex of opportunity for extreme pathogens to flourish.......as does the terror.
A second century smallpox epidemic ultimately quickened the pace of the fall of Rome; the 14th century saw the of bubonic plague captured by Italian merchants along the Silk Road arriving south to Mediterranean littoral regions like Venice and Constantinople wiping out nearly a third of western Europe's population.
William McNeill recounts how human ingenuity, trading routes and progress itself is inseparable from the mythological terror of premodern societies.
Author's Page http://www.amazon.com/William-H.-McNeill/e/B000APKA14/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1