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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz
ISSN: 1678-8060
EISSN: 1678-8060
Vol. 98, No. s1, 2003, pp. 21-27
Bioline Code: oc03005
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Vol. 98, No. s1, 2003, pp. 21-27

 en Paleoepidemiology: Is There a Case to Answer?
Sheila MF Mendonça de Souza; Diana Maul de Carvalho & Andrea Lessa

Abstract

Paleopathology is the study of disease, physiological disruptions and impairment in the past. After two centuries of mainly descriptive studies, efforts are being made towards better methodological approaches to the study of diseases in human populations of ancient times whose remains are recovered by archaeology. Paleoepidemiology can be defined as an interdisciplinary area that aims to develop more suitable epidemiological methods, and to apply those in current use, to the study of disease determinants in human populations in the past. In spite of the limits of funerary or other archaeological series of human remains, paleoepidemiology tries to reconstruct past conditions of disease and health in those populations and its relation to lifestyle and environment. Although considering the limits of studying populations of deceased, most of them represented exclusively by bones and teeth, the frequency of lesions and other biological signs of interest to investigations on health, and their relative distribution in the skeletal remains by age and sex, can be calculated, and interpreted according to the ecological and cultural information available in each case. Building better models for bone pathology and bone epidemiology, besides a more complex theoretical frame for paleoepidemiological studies is a big job for the future that will need the incorporation of methods and technology from many areas, including the tools of molecular biology.

Keywords
paleopathology - methods - paleoepidemiology - archaeology - bioarchaeology

 
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