Another ancient skeleton is providing clues to the spread of tuberculosis. This one is Roman from the 4th c. and was found on a construction site at York University.
If the new case is confirmed as TB it could provide scientists with a valuable tool to trace the movement of the disease as it is relatively rare for specimens to be discovered in the UK that date from any earlier than the 12th century.
Archaeologist Cath Neal, from the University of York said: “This was a remarkable find and detailed study of this skeleton will provide us with important clues about the emergence of tuberculosis in late-Roman Britain, but also information about what life was like in York more than 1,500 years ago.
Bone evidence suggests that the poor fellow might have contracted the disease as a child, possibly from domesticated animals, then it lay dormant until adulthood. I didn’t even know TB did that.
His burial is unusual, too. At the time of his death, people were buried in cemeteries. Our tubercular friend, on the other hand, was buried alone close to living quarters, maybe because his illness was rare and scary so his people were afraid to transport his corpse over any distance.