Back from the dead?

So it's been a while since our last post on this blog. I do apologise for the 4 year hiatus - life got in the way a bit, as it does, but the good news is that we are now back and I will be publishing new posts on a (hopefully!) once weekly basis again... Continue Reading →

Syphilis: New World or Old?

Earlier this month the discovery of a 700 year old skeleton showing signs of congenital syphilis was announced by the Medical University of Vienna. Although this might not sound immediately controversial the skeleton itself comes from St Pölten in Austria and that is unusual because syphilis was thought to have been imported to Europe from... Continue Reading →

A Tale of Two Parasites

Parasites are fascinating. We might tend to think of them as cunning free-loaders, slowly sucking the life out of their unsuspecting victims but the truth is often far more nuanced and bizarre. Modern parasites can permanently alter minds, castrate their victims to make them more useful, even replace their host's tongues, all just to get... Continue Reading →

9,000 Year Old Ritual Decapitation

Occasionally in the life of some archaeologists there must come moments when they feel like they are excavating the aftermath of a particularly gruesome horror movie. The recent discovery of a severed head and hands from east-central Brazil is a case in point. The research was performed by an international team, led by researchers from... Continue Reading →

When Is A Disease Not A Disease?

Today we're moving out of the arena of strict palaeopathology and instead we're going to look at something a little different. The topic is evolutionary medicine, which is in part the study of how diseases have evolved and how we have evolved in response. So we'll start with a question: when is a disease not... Continue Reading →

Force-fed Kestrels in Ancient Egypt?

Earlier this month researchers from the American University in Cairo, Stellenbosch University and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies announced the results of an autopsy of a bird, mummified as part of a votive offering to the Gods. Although most such birds were gutted before being buried this particular specimen still had its stomach and... Continue Reading →

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