Skip to comments.Italian Skeletons Reveal Old World Diseases
Posted on 04/13/2004 5:22:18 PM PDT by blam
Italian Skeletons Reveal Old World Diseases
By Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News
Columbus: Syphilis Spreader?
April 12, 2004 Researchers investigating Italian cemeteries have found further evidence to confirm that syphilis and rheumatoid arthritis plagued the Americas long before the arrival of Columbus.
Involving various sites throughout Italy, the study examined 688 skeletons dating from the Bronze Age to the Black Plague epidemic of 1485-1486. The remains were investigated for the presence of bony alterations characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis, gout, spondyloarthropathy and syphilis-causing organisms, called treponemes.
Indeed, syphilis is known to scar and deform bones. Legend holds that Columbus and his crew contracted syphilis in the New World and caused an outbreak in Europe.
"Prior to Columbus, Italy was like a virgin. Rheumatoid arthritis and syphilis were not present, further supporting the contention that they are New World-derived diseases," Bruce Rothschild, the paleopathologist at the Arthritis Center of Northeast Ohio who carried the study, told Discovery News.
The research matches Rothschild's previous studies, which found no evidence of syphilis in the Old World before Columbus. However, 687 skeletons from eight different populations in the New World, ranging in age from 400 to 6,000 years old, displayed signs of syphilis in bones that were at least 800 years old.
The examination of the Italian skeletons also dismissed the hypothesis that the demise of the Roman Empire was related to lead poisoning. Limiting evaluation to the Roman period, only two instances of gout, which is caused by lead poisoning, were found among 439 individuals, suggesting that the disease was uncommon at that time.
The most frequent bone alterations, indicating minor trauma, came from 15th century skeletons. According to Rothschild, this was a time of psychological stress caused by repetitive plagues, but also of unique physical injury.
"During times of plague, there is a tendency to retreat into one's home in order to reduce exposure to the epidemic. The skeletons showed that measures taken did not save those people from plague death, but might have increased exposure to minor injuries at home," Rothschild said.
The frequency of spondyloarthropathy, a family of inflammatory arthritic conditions, was significantly below that found in populations with bad sanitary conditions.
"This indicates a high, high standard of hygiene in ancient Italy. We should not be be surprised that the civilization that brought us aqueducts would have also solved sanitation," Rothschild said.
According to writer and historian Ruggero Marino, author of several books on Columbus, the hypothesis that the explorer and his crew contracted syphilis and caused an outbreak in Europe on their return is not confirmed by historical documents.
"I doubt this is the right explanation. However, a careful examination of Columbus' bones, supposing the explorer's real body is identified, could tell us more," Marino told Discovery News.
I am a firm believer that the demise of the Roman Empire was due to the centuries/generations of in-breeding. They just got weaker genetically and weirder mentally. Perhaps this was also the cause of Egypt's disappearance. On a positive note, the Islamists are still avidly practicing in-breeding; perhaps that will finally resolve the problem with this troublesome sector of the human race.
Nah, It was a meteor shower, see post #15 & 16 on the thread linked below. This incident probably ended Sodom & Gomorra and provided the fireworks described in Revelations.
At the turn of XX century, Germany was the most civilized and elightened nation, and then turned into the most barbaric within one generation. The point is that ideas change much more rapidly than genetic code, and it is people's ideas and values that determine the actions they choose.
The rheumatoid arthritis claim is also a stretch since to this day the cause is unknown. No one yet, as far as I know, has been able to link it to an infectious agent.
I'm not either, I'm a catastrophist and I believe Renfield is some sort of soil scientist. (...or something along that line.)
""Lead causes destruction of kidney tissue that will lead to retention of uric acid, gout."
I always thought the lask of iodine caused gout. Hmmmm
No, that would be "goiter", not gout.
From what I've read, large amounts of lead have been found in the remains of Romans dependent on a lead plumbing system.
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