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Analyzing Skeletal Manifestations of Pre-Columbian Tuberculosis in the Northeastern highlands of Peru

Author(s): Jennifer Marla Toyne ; Nathan Esplin

Year: 2016

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The current understanding of Pre-Columbian tuberculosis is unclear, and in several geographic areas very little is known. To date most knowledge of ancient tuberculosis comes from isolated case studies. These studies are informative as they consider the individual in question but they offer little insight into the demographic or social impact of tuberculosis. This population-based study describes osteological lesions consistent with possible tuberculosis in 15 individual skeletons excavated from the Chachapoya site of Kuelap, Amazonas, in the northeastern highlands of Peru. Evidence of advanced spinal tuberculosis is present in several individuals, and lytic lesions of the lower lumbar vertebra and sacroiliac and sternomanubrial joints are evident in nearly every case. Both adult males (9.7%) and females (13.8%) presented skeletal lesions but there was only one juvenile identified. With growing scholarship in the Chachapoyas region it is significant to record so many cases at Kuelap interred in different burial contexts, but this sample also clearly indicates tuberculosis was present both before and after Inca occupation. Given that skeletal tuberculosis is only involved in a few percent of tuberculosis cases, the number and pronounced degree of skeletal pathology present suggest that tuberculosis likely had a significant impact on Chachapoya health.

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Analyzing Skeletal Manifestations of Pre-Columbian Tuberculosis in the Northeastern highlands of Peru. Jennifer Marla Toyne, Nathan Esplin. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405066)


Geographic Keywords
South America

Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America