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April 1969

Diseases in Antiquity: A Survey of the Diseases, Injuries and Surgery of Early Populations.

Author Affiliations

San Francisco

Arch Intern Med. 1969;123(4):471-472. doi:10.1001/archinte.1969.00300140117028

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This extraordinarily splendid and richly illustrated volume represents the most exhaustive survey of paleopathology ever published. Unlike previous books on the subject, some of which have become veritable classics and are mostly oneauthor works, this volume consists of reprinted contributions by numerous authors, nearly all of whom are famous authorities in the fields of historical pathology. It is a matter of course that Sir Marc Armand Ruffer, who was the first to use the word paleopathology, is also represented in this volume.

It is interesting that the study of the human skeletal remains which reveal so much about the diseases of the distant past is not necessarily an entirely reliable indicator of the actual prehistoric disease picture. This is because the postmortem changes, which occur under certain conditions of burial, may bring about alterations which are unrelated to the original illness. Similarly, we are warned by P. H. K. Gray

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