The lecture will focus on what seems to be the only documented plague outbreak in Central Asia before the Black Death. The plague outbreak in question devastated local communities in the Chu Valley (N. Kyrgyzstan, near Issyk-Kul' lake) in 1338-9, and the main contours of the outbreak can be reconstructed from local cemetery inscriptions. To appreciate the 1338-9 outbreak, which preceded the outbreak of the Black Death in Crimea/Caspian by some eight years, the talk will scrutinise its wider biological, climatic and institutional contexts. It will then place it into a much wider palaeo-genetic context of the post-polytomy era (12-13th century), when four newly created lineages of Yersinia pestis and their sub-branches were spreading across space and time. The talk will conclude with future agenda and directions related to the Issyk-Kul' plague project, which can only be achieved through a multi-disciplinary collaboration between scientists and humanists.