Encyclopedia of Medical Anthropology

2004 Edition
| Editors: Carol R. Ember, Melvin Ember

Paleopathology and the Study of Ancient Remains

  • Michael R. Zimmerman
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/0-387-29905-X_7


Paleopathology, the study of disease in ancient remains, is aimed at improving our understanding of the evolution of diseases and their interaction with human biologic and social history (Aufderheide & Rodriguez-Martin, 1998; Brothwell & Sandison, 1967; Ortner & Aufderheide, 1991). Pathogenic organisms, environmental factors, and patterns of disease evolve just as do larger organisms, including hosts and vectors of disease. There is evidence, however, for considerable stability in some host-parasite relationships. Similar parasitic worms have been found in Egyptian mummies and modern Egyptians. Such historical perspectives are necessary to prepare us for changes in disease incidence and for new diseases, such as Legionnaire’s disease and AIDS (Zimmerman, 2001).

Evidence of ancient disease is obtained from historic records, works of art such as paintings, pottery effigies, and figurines, religious statuary, figures and faces on coins, skeletons, and mummies. Many diseases...


Archeological Material Myositis Ossificans Congenital Syphilis Egyptian Mummy Amino Acid Racemization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Zimmerman

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