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A 6500-year-old Middle Neolithic child from Pollera Cave (Liguria, Italy) with probable multifocal osteoarticular tuberculosis

Sparacello, Vitale S.; Roberts, Charlotte A.; Kerudin, Ammielle; Müller, Romy

A 6500-year-old Middle Neolithic child from Pollera Cave (Liguria, Italy) with probable multifocal osteoarticular tuberculosis Thumbnail


Authors

Vitale S. Sparacello

Ammielle Kerudin

Romy Müller



Abstract

Clear skeletal evidence of prehistoric tuberculosis (TB) is rare, especially in children. We describe and differentially diagnose the pathological changes displayed by a five-year-old child, Pollera 21 (PO21) dated to the Middle Neolithic of Liguria (Italy), or 5740 ± 30 BP (Beta-409341; 6635–6453 cal BP, 2σ, OxCal 4.2). PO21 shows a number of osteoarticular lesions, mainly of a lytic nature with very little bone proliferation: the vertebral column, the shoulder and pelvic girdles, and the ribcage are involved. Given the nature and pattern of the lesions, we propose a diagnosis of multifocal (or multiple) bone TB. Attempts to detect TB aDNA through molecular analysis gave negative results, but this alone is not sufficient to prove that PO21 was not infected with TB. The lesions observed in PO21 share similarities with other published evidence, such as spinal and joint involvement, and disseminated cyst-like lesions. Conversely, PO21 does not show diffuse bone deposition, such as hypertrophic osteoarthropathy (HOA) or endocranial modifications such as serpens endocrania symmetrica (SES). PO21 adds to our knowledge of patterns of TB manifestation in archaeological skeletal remains, which is especially important considering the variability in types and patterns of osteoarticular lesions seen today in people with TB.

Citation

Sparacello, V. S., Roberts, C. A., Kerudin, A., & Müller, R. (2017). A 6500-year-old Middle Neolithic child from Pollera Cave (Liguria, Italy) with probable multifocal osteoarticular tuberculosis. International Journal of Paleopathology, 17, 67-74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2017.01.004

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 14, 2017
Online Publication Date Feb 4, 2017
Publication Date Jun 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jul 14, 2017
Publicly Available Date Feb 4, 2018
Journal International Journal of Paleopathology
Print ISSN 1879-9817
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Pages 67-74
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpp.2017.01.004

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