Objectives We aim to discuss the presence of treponemal infections in three individuals belonging to a large (∼400 individuals) Late Medieval cemetery (14th -16th century) that archaeological and documentary sources place within a Jewish context, and to discuss the role of these diseases in a biocultural perspective. Materials and methods An anthropological and paleopathological study was conducted on skeletal remains of three individuals, though macroscopic and tomographic examination. Results Cranial lesions in which simultaneous destructive and proliferative processes (caries sicca) are noted. Long bones also present osseous alterations with increased bone density and non-uniform thickening. Conclusions Skeletal lesions are consistent with treponemal infections (possibly either endemic or acquired syphilis). Historical documentation could help the interpretation of our cases, recording a syphilis outbreak in Bologna in 1496, possibly coeval to the Late Medieval Jewish cemetery. Significance These cases of treponematosis are unique, documenting the presence of the disease within the Jewish Medieval community in Italy, as they frame the effects and consequence of the infection in shaping social and cultural contexts of the medieval Italian and European communities. They offer material evidence to elaborate on the historical documents on the hostility Jewish community suffered. Limitations Radiocarbon dating have not been performed directly on skeletal remains of the three pathological individuals. δ13C and δ15N isotope ratios should also be acquired to estimate the marine diet component, to account for possible marine reservoir effect on radiocarbon age calibration.

Syphilis in an Italian medieval jewish community: A bioarchaeological and cultural perspective

Pietrobelli, Annalisa
;
Mariotti, Valentina;Bettuzzi, Matteo;Morigi, Maria Pia;Belcastro, Maria Giovanna
2020

Abstract

Objectives We aim to discuss the presence of treponemal infections in three individuals belonging to a large (∼400 individuals) Late Medieval cemetery (14th -16th century) that archaeological and documentary sources place within a Jewish context, and to discuss the role of these diseases in a biocultural perspective. Materials and methods An anthropological and paleopathological study was conducted on skeletal remains of three individuals, though macroscopic and tomographic examination. Results Cranial lesions in which simultaneous destructive and proliferative processes (caries sicca) are noted. Long bones also present osseous alterations with increased bone density and non-uniform thickening. Conclusions Skeletal lesions are consistent with treponemal infections (possibly either endemic or acquired syphilis). Historical documentation could help the interpretation of our cases, recording a syphilis outbreak in Bologna in 1496, possibly coeval to the Late Medieval Jewish cemetery. Significance These cases of treponematosis are unique, documenting the presence of the disease within the Jewish Medieval community in Italy, as they frame the effects and consequence of the infection in shaping social and cultural contexts of the medieval Italian and European communities. They offer material evidence to elaborate on the historical documents on the hostility Jewish community suffered. Limitations Radiocarbon dating have not been performed directly on skeletal remains of the three pathological individuals. δ13C and δ15N isotope ratios should also be acquired to estimate the marine diet component, to account for possible marine reservoir effect on radiocarbon age calibration.
Pietrobelli, Annalisa; Mariotti, Valentina; Fusari, Samantha; Gasparini, Anthony; Bettuzzi, Matteo; Morigi, Maria Pia; Belcastro, Maria Giovanna;
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/762826
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