During four centuries men have argued as to the place where syphilis originated. Controversy and polemic over the interpretation of old documents do not seem to have settled the question. But the study of ancient and diseased bones furnishes another method for attacking the problem, for the typical syphilitic skull gives a nearly certain means of diagnosis. Favorable specimens of long bones are also valuable, though not quite so convincing as the skull, since roentgenograms of long bones with chronic osteoperiostitis and yaws are sometimes much like those of syphilitic long bones. There is a better chance for determining the antiquity of syphilis through the examination of ancient bones than is the case with any other infection. There is the further advantage that the actual lesions of the disease are preserved in museums, where they may be seen by any person interested. It is not necessary to wrestle with anachronisms
WILLIAMS HU. THE ORIGIN OF SYPHILIS: EVIDENCE FROM DISEASED BONES: A SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT. Arch Derm Syphilol. 1936;33(5):783–787. doi:10.1001/archderm.1936.01470110003001
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: