Tuberculosis in Past Peruvian Populations


Due to its arid climate the Atacama Desert has an exceptional preservation of ancient biomolecules. In an archaeological context, this allows for genetic analyses of both past human populations and the infectious diseases they experienced. Pre-contact Peruvian cultures are among the first New World populations to show skeletal indications of tuberculosis, and recent molecular analyses have revealed that three individuals were afflicted with a rare zoonotic form of the disease acquired from marine mammals. This form is no longer circulating in the human population, and it appears to have been replaced by the European variant after contact. While the ancient disease was presumably acquired through either the consumption or manipulation of tissues from affected seals or sea lions, little is known about its range in the human population and whether or not it subsequently became human-adapted. This talk will explore our recent work on the molecular evaluation of additional skeletal material from the Americas that show physical evidence of tuberculosis infections. Our analyses are conducted with the aim of exploring the different forms of tuberculosis that were circulating in the New World before contact, their relationship to the Peruvian form, and the potential evidence for human adaptation.

Cite this Record

Tuberculosis in Past Peruvian Populations. Kirsten Bos, Åshild J. Vågene, Jane Buikstra, Anne C. Stone, Johannes Krause. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431015)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16657