Chapter 10 : Paleopathology of Human Infections: Old Bones, Antique Books, Ancient and Modern Molecules

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Paleopathology is the most recent discipline among the sciences of the past; it studies traces of diseases that can be recognized in animal and human remains from ancient times. This research field is located at the interface of medicine, anthropology, and archaeology. Since its beginning in the late 19th century, paleopathology has developed a specific interest in the origin and evolution of infectious diseases affecting human populations. Since the mid 1990s, thanks to the introduction of PCR into the field, the studies of past human infections have undergone a significant revival, evolving from the analysis of ancient writings and bones to that of ancient molecules, allowing evidence-based diagnosis. The goal of this chapter is to provide some examples of an integrative approach that combines these three sources of data for reconstructing the history of human infections.

Citation: Dutour O. 2016. Paleopathology of Human Infections: Old Bones, Antique Books, Ancient and Modern Molecules, p 93-106. In Drancourt M, Raoult D (ed), Paleomicrobiology of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PoH-0014-2015
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Figure 1

Paleopathological (A) and historical (B) illustrations of superficial vertebral lesions due to tuberculosis: (A) Paleopathological case dating from the end of the 18th century (Dutour, 2011). (B) Historical description made by Victor Ménard in 1888 ( ).

Citation: Dutour O. 2016. Paleopathology of Human Infections: Old Bones, Antique Books, Ancient and Modern Molecules, p 93-106. In Drancourt M, Raoult D (ed), Paleomicrobiology of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PoH-0014-2015
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Plague epidemics and the first molecular identification of ancient DNA (aDNA) of

Citation: Dutour O. 2016. Paleopathology of Human Infections: Old Bones, Antique Books, Ancient and Modern Molecules, p 93-106. In Drancourt M, Raoult D (ed), Paleomicrobiology of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PoH-0014-2015

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