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February 1, 1965

Paleo-PathologyClues to diseases of prehistoric America found in recovered bones and soft tissues.

JAMA. 1965;191(5):31-35. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080050079047

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Abstract

Paleo-epidemiology can contribute substantially to the reconstruction of the history of disease provided that advances in laboratory techniques and diagnostic methods are applied to human remains excavated by archeologists, physicians reported to the Symposium on Human Paleopathology at the National Academy of Sciences—National Research Council, Washington, DC.

James G. Roney, MD, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, described pathological conditions discovered in prehistoric inhabitants of an area in California recently excavated and proposed an outline of methodology in Paleoepidemiology. Evidence of pathological conditions found included inflammation—arthritis, alveolar abscess, periostitis, osteomyelitis, and sinusitis—trauma, neoplasm, and congenital anomaly.

Esmond R. Long, MD, Henry Phipps Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, pointed out that at least two substantial "reservoirs of paleopathology" exist in this country. One is in the dry regions of the Southwest where the climate for centuries has tended to prevent excessive microbic destruction of human remains.

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