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 ?
Chapter 12 presents the paleopathology of the EB IA population--the stresses, illnesses, and traumas of sufficient duration or intensity to affect the bones, keeping in mind the short life span.
Paper presented at the European meeting of the Paleopathology Association.
SOME of the world's leading experts on paleopathology, who study ancient remains to help understand disease, will gather to share their latest research at Durham University next week.
Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture (Orlando, Fla.: Academic Press: 1984); Clark S.
The book begins with a fascinating chapter on paleopathology and physiotherapy treatments past and present.
- Paleopathology Association 30th annual meeting (North America) April 22 and 23, 2003, Tempe, Arizona, abstracts.
"Male-Female Immune Reactivity and Its Implications for Interpreting Evidence in Human Skeletal Paleopathology," in Sex and Gender in Paleopathological Perspective, ed.
See Ortner, "Skeletal Paleopathology: Probabilities, Possibilities, and Impossibilities," for insights on the existence of congenital syphilis that may buttress the radical hypothesis that Colin and his wife passed on the virus to his suspiciously diminutive daughter at birth.
Aufderheide (eds), Human Paleopathology: Current Syntheses and Future Options, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, 151-8.
His material is mainly drawn from physical and cultural anthropology, but also includes works from archaeology, evolutionary biology, paleopathology, medical geography and sociology, and the history of medicine and epidemiology.