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Throughout the time in history the Salem Witch Trials have had many theories as to how and why it was caused It is more than apparent that the main causes were the strict Puritan religion and the contamination of their crops by a fungus that caused Ergot poisoning Ergot contamination was not known to exist in the United States before 1807 however ergot contamination was commonly found in Europe and caused many epidemics there It was not known until the mid 19th century that what seemed to be sun baked kernels of the grains was in fact a fungus This fungus grows and thrives in rainy springs and summers that are damp and warm summer rye is most affected to this type of contamination According to Linnda Caporael if one field had ergot contamination and if there is another field across or near it then that field may not be affected Ergot is also known to not appear for years later afterwards after having it for a year 27Many people can get ergot poisoning that is the result of eating rye wheat or other cereal grains that had been contaminated with the fungus In some cases ergot poisoning occurred more often in females than males The most common grain that was planted in Salem at this time was wild rye which was an excellent host for the fungus This rye would be harvested around August and would be stored in barns to be threshed at a later time when it was needed This would have given the fungus time to contaminate the other rye By the time Thanksgiving occurred the contaminated rye would have started to be used in the breads and baked goods for their meals Within a short period of time the symptoms of the ergot poisoning would be exhibited The Puritans not knowing about ergot poisoning would have mistaken these symptoms for possession of the person by evil spirits or the
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