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Paleomicrobiology of Humans

Publication Date:
November 14, 2016
Content Details:
212 pages

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  • About the Book

    Book Summary

    Only recently was it determined that two of the world's most devastating plagues, the plague of Justinian and the medieval Black Death, were caused by distinct strains of the same pathogen. Use of paleomicrobiological techniques led to this discovery. This work is just one example of the historical mysteries that this emerging field has helped to clarify. Others, such as when tuberculosis began to afflict humans, the role of lice in plague pandemics, and the history of smallpox, are explored and further illuminated in Paleomicrobiology of Humans.

    Led by editors Michel Drancourt and Didier Raoult, the book’s expert contributors address larger issues using paleomicrobiology. These include the recognition of human remains associated with epidemic outbreaks, identification of the graves of disasters, and the discovery of demographic structures that reveal the presence of an epidemic moment. In addition, the book reviews the technical approaches and controversies associated with recovering and sequencing very old DNA and surveys modern human diseases that have ancient roots.

    Essentially, paleomicrobiologists aim to identify past epidemics at the crossroads of different specialties, including anthropology, medicine, molecular biology, and microbiology. Thus, this book is of great interest not only to microbiologists but to medical historians and anthropologists as well.

    Paleomicrobiology of Humans is the first comprehensive book to examine so many aspects of this new, multidisciplinary, scientific field.


    • This book addresses the larger issues being addressed by paleomicrobiology,
    • reviews the technical approaches and controversies attendant upon recovering and sequencing very old DNA
    • surveys a number of modern diseases of humans with ancient roots
    • It will be of very great interest to microbiologists, anthropologists and medical historians.
  • Contents

    Contributors vii
    Introduction xi
    Acknowledgments xiii
    1 Demographic Patterns Distinctive of Epidemic
    Cemeteries in Archaeological Samples 1
    Dominique Castex and Sacha Kacki
    2 Characterization of the Funeral Groups Associated
    with Plague Epidemics 13
    Stéfan Tzortzis and Michel Signoli
    3 Paleogenetics and Past Infections: the Two Faces of the Coin
    of Human Immune Evolution 21
    Laurent Abi-Rached and Didier Raoult
    4 A Personal View of How Paleomicrobiology Aids Our
    Understanding of the Role of Lice in Plague Pandemics 29
    Didier Raoult
    5 Sources of materials for Paleomicrobiology 39
    Gérard Aboudharam
    6 Paleomicrobiology Data: Authentification and Interpretation 51
    Michel Drancourt
    7 Human Coprolites as a Source for Paleomicrobiology 59
    Sandra Appelt, Michel Drancourt, and Matthieu Le Bailly
    8 Ancient Resistome 75
    Abiola Olumuyiwa Olaitain and Jean-Marc Rolain
    9 The History Of Epidemic Typhus 81
    Emmanouil Angelakis, Yassina Bechah, and Didier Raoult
    10 Paleopathology of Human Infections: Old Bones, Antique Books,
    Ancient and Modern Molecules 93
    Olivier Dutour
    11 Past Bartonelloses 107
    Pierre-Edouard Fournier
    12 Paleomicrobiology Of Human Tuberculosis 113
    Helen Donoghue
    13 Paleomicrobiology of Leprosy 131
    Mark Spigelman and Mauro Rubini
    14 Past Intestinal Parasites 143
    Matthieu Le Bailly and Adauto Araújo
    15 Paleopathology and Paleomicrobiology of Malaria 155
    Andreas Nerlich
    16 History of Smallpox and Its Spread in Human Populations 161
    Catherine Thèves, Eric Crubézy, and Philippe Biagini
    17 Cholera 173
    Donatella Lippi, Eduardo Gotuzzo, and Saverio Caini
    18 Human Lice in Paleoentomology and Paleomicrobiology 181
    Rezak Drali, Kosta Y. Mumcuoglu, and Didier Raoult
    Index 191