Human Evolution

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 11–15 | Cite as

Analysis of treponemal disease in North Africa: The case for Bejel in the Sudan, but absence in West North Africa

  • B. M. Rothschild
  • C. Rothschild


Although the periostitis in ancient Sudanese Nubians was clearly treponemal in origin, the challenge was to determine if were the same as the variety (Bejel) historically documented in this century. Comparison with known Bejel in Negev Bedouin revealed an indistinguishable character and pattern of disease. This pattern was easily distinguished from the polyostotic pattern of Yaws. Invariable presence of irregular/striated cortical surface striations (in the presence of sabre shin deformity) and absence of dental abnormalities distinguished the lesions from those of venereal syphilis. Bejel has existed in the Sudan for at least 2000 years, but was apparently not present in other areas of North Africa 3000–7000 years ago.

Key Words

Bejel treponemal disease periosteal reaction periostitis osteomyelitis Sudan Nubian Meriotic 


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Copyright information

© International Institute for the Study of Man 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. M. Rothschild
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • C. Rothschild
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Arthritis Center of Northeast OhioYoungstownUSA
  2. 2.College of MedicineNortheastern Ohio UniversitiesRootstownUSA
  3. 3.University of AkronAkronUSA
  4. 4.The Carnegie MuseumPittsburghUSA

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