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Keywords:

  • skeleton;
  • paleopathology;
  • cancer;
  • early Middle Ages;
  • Slavonic culture;
  • Central Europe;
  • X-rays;
  • SEM;
  • LSCM

Abstract

The first case of metastatic carcinoma ever detected in Slovakia comes from a Slavonic cemetery at Borovce, in the district of Piešt'any, which is dated from the end of the 8th to the middle of the 12th century AD. The disease afflicted a 50–60-year-old male, buried in a grave from the older phase of inhumation (8th–early 9th century AD). A number of osteolytic metastases were found in all bones of the skull and postcranial skeleton except for the forearms, hands, lower legs, and feet. They were studied macroscopically by standard X-rays, and by scanning electron microscopy and laser scanning confocal microscopy. Analogous finds from Central European countries were also obtained. They are discussed in relation to their chronology, which shows a tendency of increasing occurrence culminating in the Middle Ages. Some demographic and paleopathological characteristics of the burials in the Borovce cemetery are also provided. Am J Phys Anthropol 116:216–229, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.