Treponematosis: A possible case from the late prehistoric of North Carolina
Article first published online: 27 APR 2005
Copyright © 1989 Wiley-Liss, Inc., A Wiley Company
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 79, Issue 3, pages 289–303, July 1989
How to Cite
Reichs, K. J. (1989), Treponematosis: A possible case from the late prehistoric of North Carolina. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 79: 289–303. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330790305
- Issue published online: 27 APR 2005
- Article first published online: 27 APR 2005
- Manuscript Accepted: 11 JUL 1988
- Manuscript Received: 4 MAY 1988
- Pre-Columbian syphilis;
- Late Woodland
The skeleton of an adult female exhibiting evidence of trepo-nemal infection was recently recovered from the Hardin site in the piedmont region of North Carolina. Archaeological indicators suggest a late prehistoric affiliation. The skeleton is affected by a diffuse process resulting in surface changes, both destructive and appositional, node formation and shaft expansion, medullary encroachment and filling, cortical thickening, and fracture. There is both cranial and postcranial involvement. While treponemal infection is indicated, the atypical nature of the total pattern raises the possibility of multiple pathological processes operating simultaneously.
The significance of this case is threefold. It provides information on the ability of prehistoric peoples to cope with disease. It reminds the paleopathologist of the dangers inherent in attempts at singular and specific diagnoses. It sheds new light on the epidemiology of the treponemal diseases.