Paleopathology


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Paleopathology

 

the branch of science dealing with pathological changes in plants and animals that existed on earth in the geologic past. Traces of disease and trauma have been discovered in the remains of many plants and animals, as well as in man throughout his evolution, beginning with Pithecanthropus man and Neanderthal man.

Paleopathological research has made it possible to study the origin, frequency, and spread of diseases. It also helps in estimating the medical knowledge of folk healers (seeFOLK MEDICINE). The older the specimen, the greater the likelihood of discovering expressed traces of worn-out osteoarticular apparatus—extensive spondyloses and arthroses. These conditions result from overwork and the accumulation of microtraumas. The sequelae of tuberculous spondylitis, osteomyelitis, and many other diseases have also been observed. The most severe form of spondyloarthritis ankylopoietica was discovered in a man about 45 years old who was buried at some time from the tenth to the 12th century.

It was formerly believed that syphilis did not exist among the ancient inhabitants of the Old World but was imported from America. However, there is indisputable evidence that inhabitants of the Old World, beginning in the Neolithic, did suffer from the disease. The Soviet scientists D. G. Rokhlin and A. E. Rubasheva described a case of syphilitic disease of the bones in an inhabitant of Transbaikalia in the first century B.C. Traces of benign and primary malignant tumors of bones have been observed, as have cancerous metastases in bones. Many diseases of the teeth have been discovered. Also observed in early human remains has been evidence of rickets, Urov disease (osteoarthrosis deformans endemica), gout, osteitis deformans, frostbite, and other pathological changes in the osteoarticular apparatus.

Paleopathologic research has established that in the Stone and Iron Ages, specifically in what is now the USSR, a number of surgical procedures were performed without complications, for example, trephination of the skull.

Paleopathology involves anatomical analysis of bones from archaeological digs, roentgenography, microscopy, and stereo-microscopy. Museums of human paleopathology are of great scientific value. The oldest such museum is in Paris. In the USSR the most extensive collection is that of the museum of paleopathology of the department of roentgenology and radiology at the First Leningrad Medical Institute.

REFERENCES

Rokhlin, D. G. Bolezni drevnikh liudei (Kosti liudei razlichnykh epokh —normal’nye i patologicheski izmenennye). Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Derums, V. Ia. Bolezni i vrachevanie v drevnei Pribaltike. Riga, 1970.
Regöly, Mérei G. Az ösemberi és késöbliembou maradványok rendszeres kór bonetana. Budapest, 1962. (Bibliography.)

V. IA. DERUMS

References in periodicals archive ?
As the only dedicated paleopathology journal in the community, we are extremely proud to have the designation of "Official Journal of the Paleopathology Association".
Paleopathology an introduction to the study of ancient evidences of disease.
Researchers involved in paleopathology say both physicians and paleontologists stand to benefit from their work.
Paleopathology in human skeletal remains from the pre-metal, bronze and iron ages, northeastern Thailand.
Ortner and Frohlich (both anthropologists, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institute) write about the history of the excavations, the ecological and social context of the EB I people, and the methods of recovery and research; a varied cast of contributors follow with chapters on the cultural artifacts of the EB I tombs, the funerary traditions, the shaft tombs and charnel house excavated in 1977, the tombs excavated in 1979 and 1981, the osteology and paleodemography of the EB IA people, the paleopathology of the EB IA and IB people, a dental analysis of the human remains, and a summary of findings and conclusions.
Nerlich, Division of Paleopathology, Institute of Pathology, Academic-Teaching Hospital Munchen-Bogenhausen, Englschalkingerstr 77 D-81925, Munich, Germany; email: andreas.
These essays on paleopathology were presented at a 2004 symposium and edited by Cohen and Crane-Kramer (anthropology, State University of New York, Plattsburgh) as an update to work gathered by Cohen in the 1980s.
John Verano invited us to present an early version of this paper at the Thirty-first Annual Meeting of the Paleopathology Association, Tampa, Florida.
Besides the first proof for visceral leishmaniasis in paleopathology, we provide evidence that leishmaniasis was present in Nubia in the early Christian period and that the organism also infected ancient Egyptians, probably because of close trading contacts to Nubia, during the Middle Kingdom.
The titular third section, Digging for Pathogens, expertly summarizes the technical and practical aspects of paleopathology, including the fate of biologic markers (Eglinton, chapter 15), aDNA (Herrmann and Hummel, chapter 16), and arthropods as reservoirs and vectors of pathogens, both ancient and modern (Spigelman and Greenblatt, chapter 17).
IXth European meeting of the Paleopathology Association: 65-72.
With the objective of continuing the work of HARDG and the IAPA Human Osteoarchaeological Sub-committee, an Irish Section Newsletter of the Paleopathology Association has been developed (Buckley 1998; 2000; Murphy 1999; 2001).