Paleopathology studies the traces of disease on human and animal remains from ancient times. Infectious diseases have been, for over a century, one of its main fields of interest. The applications of paleogenetics methods to microbial aDNA, that started in the 90s combined to the recent development of new sequencing techniques allowing ‘paleogenomics’ approaches, have completely renewed the issue of the infections in the past. These advances open up new challenges in the understanding of the evolution of human-pathogen relationships, integrated in “One Health” concept.
In this perspective, an integrative multidisciplinary approach combining data from ancient texts and old bones to those of old molecules is of great interest for reconstructing the past of human infections. Despite some too optimistic prediction of their eradication in the late 20th century, some of these ancient human diseases, such as plague, leprosy or tuberculosis, are still present and continue their evolution at the beginning of this 21rst century. Better know the past to predict a part of the future of human diseases remains, more than ever, the motto of the paleopathological science.
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