11864 - Infectious diseases as one key element to unravel contact between ancient coastal populations in South America

Despite decade-long research and many hypotheses proposed, the place of origin and timing of syphilis, as one of the most challenging infectious diseases, is still unknown. Apart from the difficulties in describing and classifying the treponemes, reaching differential diagnoses in archaeological collections is challenging. Various protocols have been put foreword, but many regions of the globe lack systematic studies of treponemal diseases in human remains. One of them is non-Andean South America. Here we present a systematic reappraisal of almost a thousand individuals exhumed from prehistoric groups that inhabited the atlantic and pacific coasts from South America after 8,000yBP. Depending on the protocol used for differential diagnosis (Powel & Cook, 2005; Rothschild, 2005; Hackett, 1975), we identified a varying number of individuals with probable treponematoses (bejel, yaws, syphilis). Whereas these results do not pinpoint the origin of syphilis, they nevertheless show, together with other pre-Columbian syphilis cases in the New as well as in the Old World, that this disfiguring disease is indeed very old. This suggests that treponematoses were common diseases, especially when considering the ?osteological paradox?. The implications of these findings are discussed. One theme considered is that these infectious diseases enrich the discussion of microevolutionary change and cultural discontinuity as well as it can aid in the establishment of ancient routes of contact and or trade between populations of ancient South America. authors:

José Filippini, Luis Pezo Lanfranco, Adam Abbas, Sabine Eggers

Palavras-chaves: treponematoses, osteoarchaeology, microevolution, Americas

Autores: Eggers, Sabine (Universidade de São Paulo - IBUSP, Brazil / Brasilien)
Co-Autores: Filippini, José (Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil) Pezo Lanfranco, Luis (Universidade de São Paulo, Brasil)


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