Document Detail

Diseases of the skull in pre-Columbian South American mummies.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  9588561     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
OBJECTIVE: The majority of paleopathological investigations focus on the study of the skull. This is because the skull is the most frequently preserved part of the human body recovered from archaeological excavations. From studying the skull, a variety of information can be obtained regarding the individual, such as sex, age, nutritional status, and other disease processes, if present. METHODS: This study represents the examination of more than 700 human skulls recovered from archaeological excavations from the Andean region of southern Peru and northern Chile and dating back more than 8000 years. RESULTS: A variety of skull abnormalities were encountered. The nonmetric variables of Huschke's foramina and palatine tori were common. Cranial deformation was observed in more than 85% of the cases. There were two cases of sagittal synostosis. Iron deficiency anemia resulting in porotic hyperostosis of the skull was evident in certain cultures. Exostoses of the external auditory canal resulting from chronic otitis was evident only among coastal populations. One skull demonstrated a periostitis consistent with Treponema infection. Trephination was encountered only in the skulls from Peru. Fifty-four cases of skull fractures were observed, half of which showed evidence of healing. Finally, only two cases of neoplastic skull lesions were encountered. CONCLUSION: The study of the human skull alone provides a large amount of information regarding the health and diseases of ancient populations.
P C Gerszten; E Gerszten; M J Allison
Publication Detail:
Type:  Historical Article; Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Neurosurgery     Volume:  42     ISSN:  0148-396X     ISO Abbreviation:  Neurosurgery     Publication Date:  1998 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1998-07-14     Completed Date:  1998-07-14     Revised Date:  2006-11-15    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7802914     Medline TA:  Neurosurgery     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  1145-51; discussion 1151-2     Citation Subset:  IM; Q    
Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Anemia, Hypochromic / pathology
Bone Diseases, Metabolic / pathology
Craniosynostoses / pathology
Esthetics / history
Exostoses / pathology
Hearing Loss, Conductive / history,  pathology
History, Ancient
Indians, South American*
Leishmaniasis, Mucocutaneous / history,  pathology
Middle Aged
Mummies / pathology*
Nutrition Disorders / pathology
Occupational Diseases / history,  pathology
Osteoma / pathology
Skull / abnormalities,  injuries,  pathology*
Skull Fractures / pathology
Skull Neoplasms / pathology,  secondary
Syphilis / history,  pathology

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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