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November 18, 1992

The Antiquity and Origins of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Author Affiliations

Bethlehem, Pa

JAMA. 1992;268(19):2649. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490190049018

To the Editor.  —The report by Dequeker and Rico1 describing rheumatoidlike lesions in a mid 15th- to early 16th-century painting, parallels a similar report by Appelboom et al.2 At that time, evidence was also presented to support the paleopathological evidence for rheumatoid arthritis well before the 15th to 17th centuries.3American Indian skeletal material from Dickson Mounds, Ill, has yielded a case of rheumatoid arthritis in an elderly man from the Mississippian period (700 to 1650 AD).4 Rothschild et al5 have also published convincing evidence for the New World presence of rheumatoid arthritis during the Late Archaic Period (3000 to 5000 years before the present). Other cases have been reported.3To date, published reports support the possibility that rheumatoid arthritis originated in the New World and entered the Old World after the 15th century.5 The paleopathological evidence supports the presence of rheumatoid arthritis