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Molecular archaeoparasitology identifies cultural changes in the Medieval Hanseatic trading centre of Lübeck.

Proc Biol Sci; 285(1888)2018 Oct 03.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-30282648
Throughout history, humans have been afflicted by parasitic worms, and eggs are readily detected in archaeological deposits. This study integrated parasitological and ancient DNA methods with a large sample set dating between Neolithic and Early Modern periods to explore the utility of molecular archaeoparasitology as a new approach to study the past. Molecular analyses provided unequivocal species-level parasite identification and revealed location-specific epidemiological signatures. Faecal-oral transmitted nematodes ( and ) were ubiquitous across time and space. By contrast, high numbers of food-associated cestodes ( and ) were restricted to medieval Lübeck. The presence of these cestodes and changes in their prevalence at approximately 1300 CE indicate substantial alterations in diet or parasite availability. ITS-1 sequences grouped into two clades; one ubiquitous and one restricted to medieval Lübeck and Bristol. The high sequence diversity of ITS-1 detected in Lübeck is consistent with its importance as a Hanseatic trading centre. Collectively, these results introduce molecular archaeoparasitology as an artefact-independent source of historical evidence.