For the confirmation of Ag 85 in ancient and recent ECM of native macerated human bone, five cases were investigated. In three individuals, highly positive results for Ag 85 were identified in Western blot: 1) a male from Arzhan, South Siberia, dating from the 7th century BC, 2) a male from Kirchberg in Hesse, Germany, dating from the 10th - 12th century AD and 3) a recent female with a proven diagnosis of TB. As a negative control, a recent male is presented who did not suffer from TB. In another recent male, Ag 85 could be identified only very weakly. From cases in the literature it is well-known that highly positive results for Ag 85 indicate active TB, however, weakly positive results indicate a silent initial infection with Mtb. Thus, apparently, also in ancient individuals, it might well be possible to differentiate between diseased persons and disease carriers using paleoproteomic techniques.
Using a variety of skeletal and dental stress indicators, an assessment of the health and disease of the indigenous inhabitants of the Mariana Islands, the Chamorro, is made. The major hypothesis to be tested is that the Chamorro were relatively healthy and that deviations from the expected, as well as inter-island variation, may reflect environmental, ecological, and cultural differences. The major skeletal series surveyed include sites on Guam (N = 247 individuals), Rota (N = 14), Tinian (N = 20), and Saipan (N = 102). The majority of the specimens are from the transitional pre-Latte (AD 1-1000) and Latte (AD 1000-1521) periods. These data derive primarily from unpublished osteological reports. The indicators of health and disease surveyed include mortality and paleodemographic data, stature, dental paleopathology, cribra orbitalia, limb bone fractures, degenerative osteoarthritis, and infectious disease (including treponemal infection). Where appropriate, tests of significance are calculated to determine the presence of any patterning in the differences observed within and between the skeletal series. Information recorded in prehistoric Hawaiians provides a standard for external comparisons. Several of the larger skeletal series surveyed have paleodemographic features that are consistent with long-term cemetery populations. Females and subadults are typically underrepresented. Most subadult deaths occur in the 2-5 year age interval. Life expectancy at birth ranges from 26.4 to 33.7 years. A healthy fertility rate is indicated for these series. The prehistoric inhabitants of the Mariana Islands were relatively tall, exceeding living Chamorros measured in the early part of the present century. The greater prevalence of developmental defects in the enamel suggests that the Chamorro were exposed to more stress than prehistoric Hawaiians. The low frequency of cribra orbitalia further indicates iron deficiency anemia was not a problem. There are generally low frequencies of dental pathology in the remains from the Mariana Islands. Betel-nut staining is relatively common in all series which may help to explain the relatively low prevalence of dental pathology. Healed limb bone fractures are rare in these skeletal series; the frequency and patterns of fractures suggest accidental injury as the main cause. Greater physical demands involving the lower back region are indicated by a high frequency of spondylolysis, or stress fracture in the lumbar vertebrae in the Chamorro. Likewise, advanced degenerative bone changes, while of low occurrence, are significantly greater in the Chamorro than Hawaiians. The prevalence of skeletal and dental indicators of stress was generally higher in the smaller islands of the Mariansas chain (e.g., Rota), islands with fewer resources to buffer environmental catastrophe. Bony changes suggestive of treponemal (probably yaws) disease are common in most of these Marianas Islands skeletal series.
Few isolated specimens or series of temporal bone abnormalities from antiquity are reported from North America. Infections were in the past and are today the most common otologic problems. Differentiating infectious disease residua from other causes of osteopathology has proven difficult for some not conversant with disease pathophysiology. During clinical experience spanning five decades and research involving several thousand aboriginal skeletons, data relating to temporal bone disease were accumulated. As a didactic exercise, findings in 18 illustrative temporal bones encountered during research are presented and discussed briefly.
Diagnostic criteria of syphilis and some other diseases are proposed from a study of 424 crania and calvariae and 250 long bones in 22 medical museums in Europe. Yaws bone lesions in Uganda and changes in Australian aboriginal bones also contributed to the establishment of these criteria. Any deductions about disease in the past or isolated populations must depend upon acceptable diagnostic criteria; post mortem damage must be recognised. In crania and calvariae the sequence of changes of Virchow's caries sicca, and in long bones nodes/expansions with superficial cavitation are sound indicators of syphilis, and of yaws and treponarid in relevant geographical areas. Attention is called to the cause of sequestra in European calvariae labelled syphilis, the absence of sequestra due to haematogenous pyogenic osteomyelitis in Australian and other aboriginal bones and possibly in Europe before the Middle Ages. The number of bones with diagnostic criteria needed to demonstrate the endemicity of a particular infection in a past community is discussed. There is also need for an extensive application of diagnostic criteria of syphilis to pre-Columbian or pre-European bones everywhere. The uncertain future of old dry diseased bones in medical museums, and the need for reference centres to provide sound advice and guidance in palaeopathology are stressed.
From: Fortuine, Robert et al. 1993. The Health of the Inuit of North America: A Bibliography from the Earliest Times through 1990. University of Alaska Anchorage. Citation number 217.
UAF - Rasmuson Library E99.E7 W388 1978a ALASKA.
The objective of this study was to examine examples of spondylolysis in which the pattern of separation was clearly asymmetrical, in order to learn more about the process of bone separation that produces this condition. Although the primary focus was on unilateral complete separation, examples of asymmetry represented by incomplete separation and by complete bilateral separation where the separation sites are in different locations on the two sides were included. Two collections were used, one consisting of Canadian Inuit skeletons curated at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and the other of 48 individual examples of asymmetrical spondylolysis from sites in a variety of localities curated by several different institutions. The first collection was studied primarily to observe early manifestations of spondylolysis, particularly incomplete separation, while various patterns of asymmetrical complete separation were the focus of the second. The results indicate that asymmetry is part of the earliest osteological picture of spondylolysis, with right-sidedness predominating, a condition perhaps related in some way to handedness. The right-side predominance appears to decrease with age. The ratio of unilateral to bilateral separation ranges from 3-33% in different studies, and a significant number of the unilateral separations have spina bifida occurring in the same vertebra. Overall, the specimens examined here, considered along with clinical cases, nicely illustrate a progression of spondylolysis. A unilateral separation may heal, it may progress to bilateral separation, or it may remain as a permanent condition, producing a pattern of degenerative changes that can include spondylolisthesis. A unilateral healing of bilateral complete separation is likely a rare phenomenon, at least after the separations have reached a certain level of maturity.