• Karl Reinhard
  • Sergey Slepchenko
  • Dong Hoon Shin
Living reference work entry


Parasites are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the world today. Parasites are organisms that live in or on other organisms called hosts, obtaining sustenance and shelter from their hosts to carry out reproduction in host tissues and structures. Taxonomic diversity characterizes parasites, and they include a wide range of organisms ranging from single-celled protozoa to arthropods such as fleas. There are two general types of parasites: ectoparasites such as lice and endoparasites such as intestinal worms. The maladies provoked by parasites include malaria, elephantiasis, kala-azar, sleeping sickness, river blindness, dysentery, crabs, and guinea worm disease. These diseases, some commonplace and some exotic, were and are significant threats, especially for peoples whose social complexity did not include effective sanitation, hygiene, and germ theory awareness.

Past infection patterns were defined by human behaviors and environmental conditions....

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Camacho, M., A. Araújo, J.J. Morrow, and K.J. Reinhard. 2018. Recovering parasites from mummies and coprolites: Establishing an epidemiological approach. Parasites and Vectors, (in press).Google Scholar
  2. Kristjánsdóttir, S., and C. Collins. 2011. Cases of hydatid disease in medieval Iceland. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 21: 479–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Kuchta, R., M.E. Serrano-Martínez, and T. Scholz. 2015. Pacific broad tapeworm Adenocephalus pacificus as a causative agent of globally reemerging Diphyllobothriasis. Emerging Infectious Diseases 21: 1697–1703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Morrow, J.J., J. Newby, D. Piombino-Mascali, and K.J. Reinhard. 2016. Taphonomic considerations for the analysis of parasites in archaeological materials. International Journal of Paleopathology 13: 56–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Rácz, S.E., E. Pucu, E. Jensen, C. Mostek, J.J. Morrow, M.L. Van Hove, R. Bianucci, D. Willems, F. Heller, and K.J. Reinhard. 2015. Parasitology in an archaeological context: Analysis of medieval burials in Nivelles, Belgium. Journal of Archaeological Science 53: 304–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Reinhard, K.J. 1992. Parasitology as an interpretive tool in archaeology. American Antiquity 57: 231–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Reinhard, K.J., and A. Araújo. 2012. Synthesizing archaeology with parasitology in paleopathology. In A global history of paleopathology, ed. J. Buikstra and C. Roberts, 751–764. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Reinhard, K.J., and A. Araujo. 2014. Prehistoric earth oven facilities and the Pathoecology of Chagas disease in the lower Pecos Canyonlands. Journal of Archaeological Science 53: 227–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Reinhard, K.J., and V.M. Bryant. 2008. Pathoecology and the future of coprolite studies. In Reanalysis and reinterpretation in southwestern bioarchaeology, ed. Stodder AWM, 199–216. Tempe: Arizona State University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Reinhard, K.J., and E. Pucu. 2014. Comparative parasitological perspectives on paleoepemiological transitions: Americas and Europe. In Moving the middle to the foreground: Interdisciplinary approaches to examining the second epidemiological transition, ed. M.K. Zuckerman, 311–326. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
  11. Seo, M., C.S. Oh, J.Y. Chai, S.J. Lee, J.B. Park, B.H. Lee, J.H. Park, G.H. Choi, D.W. Hong, H.U. Park, and D.H. Shin. 2010. The influence of differential burial preservation on the recovery of parasite eggs in soil samples from Korean medieval tombs. Journal of Parasitology 96: 366–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Seo, M., A. Araujo, K. Reinhard, J.Y. Chai, and D.H. Shin. 2014. Paleoparasitological studies on mummies of the Joseon dynasty, Korea. Korean Journal of Parasitology 52: 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Slavinsky, V.C., K.V. Chugunov, A.A. Tsybankov, S.N. Ivanov, A.V. Zubova, and S.M. Slepchenko. 2018. Trichuris trichiura in the mummified remains of southern Siberian nomads. Antiquity, (in press).Google Scholar
  14. Slepchenko, S., and K. Reinhard. 2018. Paleoparasitology and pathoecology in Russia: Investigations and perspectives. International Journal of Paleopathology, (in press).Google Scholar
  15. Slepchenko, S.M., S.N. Ivanov, A.V. Sergey Vybornov, T.A. Alekseevich, S.V. Sergeyevich, D.N. Lysenko, and V.E. Matveev. 2017. Taenia sp. in human burial from Kan River, East Siberia. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 112 (5): 387–390. Scholar
  16. Trigg, H.B., S.A. Jacobucci, S.A. Mrozowski, and J.M. Steinberg. 2017. Archaeological parasites as indicators of environmental change in urbanizing landscapes: Implications for health and social status. American Antiquity 82: 517–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Waters-Rist, A.L., K. Faccia, A. Lieverse, V.I. Bazaliiskii, K.A. Katzenberg, and L.J. Losey. 2014. Multicomponent analyses of a hydatid cyst from an Early Neolithic hunter-fisher-gatherer from Lake Baikal, Siberia. Journal of Archaeological Science 50: 51–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl Reinhard
    • 1
  • Sergey Slepchenko
    • 2
  • Dong Hoon Shin
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Natural ResourcesUniversity of Nebraska – LincolnLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Tyumen Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of SciencesTyumenRussia
  3. 3.Laboratory of Bioanthropology, Paleopathology and History of Diseases/Department of AnatomyInstitute of Forensic Science/Seoul National University College of MedicineSeoulKorea

Section editors and affiliations

  • E. Christian Wells
    • 1
  • Arleyn Simon
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.School of Human Evolution & Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA