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July 23, 1982


Author Affiliations
(Oxon) Paleopathology Association 18655 Parkside Detroit, MI 48221; Mt Carmel Mercy Hospital Detroit
JAMA. 1982;248(4):472-473. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330040060035

Paleopathology is not exactly a household word. Coined by Shufeldt in 1892, from the Greek (παλαιο[unk], ancient, and παΘο[unk], suffering), the term was proposed to designate the study of all evidence of diseased or pathological conditions found fossilized in the remains of extinct or fossil animals. Early researchers, for obvious reasons, concentrated on skeletal material, and pioneering work on human remains was done in Egypt by the great trio of Elliot Smith, Lucas, and Ruffer. This was followed by Hrdlička's studies of Peruvian skulls and Moodie's radiological analysis of both Peruvian and Egyptian mummies. During the recent past, more emphasis has been placed on the examination of soft tissue where such tissue has survived (chiefly in Egyptian and Peruvian mummies), and the application of new scientific techniques has produced brilliant results.1 Now we are at a point where the use of advanced methods in studying these remains can help