Osteoarcheological and biomolecular evidence of leprosy from an 11–13th century ce muslim cemetery in europe (Orosháza, southeast Hungary)

János Balázs, Zoltán Rózsa, Zsolt Bereczki, Antónia Marcsik, Balázs Tihanyi, K. Karlinger, Gergely Pölöskei, Erika Molnár, Helen D. Donoghue, György Pálfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Orosháza site no. 10 (Southeast Hungary) contains the partially excavated archaeological remains of an 11–13th century CE Muslim merchant village and its cemetery located in close proximity to Christian villages of the same era. The skeleton of a young woman (grave no. 16) from the last phase of the cemetery use was identified with rhinomaxillary lesions associated with lepromatous leprosy. The right parietal bone also exhibited signs of cranial trauma, possibly caused by symbolic trepanation, a well-known ritual practice in the 9–11th century CE Carpathian Basin. The retrospective diagnosis of the disease was supported by ancient DNA analysis, as the samples were positive for Mycobacterium leprae aDNA, shown to be of genotype 3. Contrary to the general practice of the era, the body of the young female with severe signs of leprosy was interred among the regular graves of the Muslim cemetery in Orosháza, which may reflect the unique cultural background of the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-118
Number of pages14
JournalHOMO
Volume70
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019

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Keywords

  • 11–13 century CE
  • Hungary
  • Leprosy
  • Muslim cemetery
  • Mycobacterium leprae aDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology

Cite this

Balázs, J., Rózsa, Z., Bereczki, Z., Marcsik, A., Tihanyi, B., Karlinger, K., Pölöskei, G., Molnár, E., Donoghue, H. D., & Pálfi, G. (2019). Osteoarcheological and biomolecular evidence of leprosy from an 11–13th century ce muslim cemetery in europe (Orosháza, southeast Hungary). HOMO, 70(2), 105-118. https://doi.org/10.1127/homo/2019/1071