The cemetery and the grave of a child. Cholera is an infection of the intestine by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The bacteria and viruses we have today have been around as long as Earth's elements. However, they have become more potent today. Cholera was the "Ebola" of Medieval times. So how does an archaeologist determine if human remains were affected by cholera or any disease? Archaeology has taken from the Medical profession many procedures such as radiography, CT Scans, MRI's, even proteomic testing. Bone protein survives for thousands of years, so naturally an extraction of bone protein can determine specific antigens. These antigens can represent specific cancers and diseases. An Antigen is a target site for the healthy immune receptors to attack. Every bacteria and virus has an antigen specific to them. Breast cancer has a specific antigen, colon cancer the same, etc.
It isn't fool proof, but it's what we have in are arsenal in Medicine and Archaeology.
Now back to bone....bone reacts to diseases in one or two ways and even both. Bone can be "eaten away" called osteolytic activity. Bone can create more bone on top of bone abnormally "osteoblastic." In fact both osteolytic and osteoblastic are normal processes going on in your body right now. You break down bone and rebuild every minute, every hour, even as you're sitting. This keeps bone healthy. It's when diseases and cancer overwhelm the bone and destroy the bone cell DNA. That's when osteolytic and osteoblastic activity get out of hand.
Breast cancer can have both osteolytic and osteoblastic activity, however, prostate cancer has osteoblastic activity.
Cholera like many infectious diseases of the past is being studied in Badia Pozzeveri. In fact, what bioarchaeology is able to learn from infectious diseases can help medical and healthcare professionals learn about outbreaks and develop methods of improving health for people affected by many diseases.
Please follow and like this site. Thank you, I am raising money to go to Lucca, Italy I am one of possibly 5 Registered Nurses around the world who have embarked in the archaeology, not bad company.
More photographs from the Pozzeveri Archaeology Field School. This would be great experience since I am an RN and would be working and learning from Dr. Gino Fornaciari M.D. (Physician and Bioarchaeologist) and Dr. Clark Larsen! What we can learn from diseases of the past, can assist medical professionals in the present. Since I am a recent cancer survivor, who was studying cancer in antiquity at the time of my diagnosis, I am particularly interested in researching cancer's roots in evolution.