Were pandemics possible in Neolithic times? It is hard to imagine a ‘superspreading’ event among cavemen. No, disease, is a cost of civilisation. In the earliest stages of Western literature, the horrors of diseases become visible for the first time. The epic poet, Hesiod, bemoans the “deathless ones” that come on man “by day and by night”. Why? Burgeoning trade across the Mediterranean promoted the need for small conurbations and infectious disease suddenly had a new ready-made environment. Standing water, cramped housing and malnutrition in times of crop failure all allowed the rapid spread of new pathogens. Throughout Antiquity, terrible plagues were a constant.