Genetic evidence of typhoid and plague-causing pathogens found in the DNA of ancient civilizations

Scientists have attributed the decline of many ancient civilizations, including the Akkadian Empire, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, to factors such as climate change and shifting fidelity. However, a new study proposes that it may be caused by some extinct pathogens. Archaeologists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology excavated from an ancient burial site called Hagios Charalombos in Crete, Greece. There they found genetic evidence for two bacteria responsible for causing typhoid and plague.

The team, led by archaeologist Gunnar Neumann, chose the site for its cold and stable conditions because DNA degrades in high temperatures. They began digging through ancient bones and recovered DNA from the teeth of 32 individuals who died between 2290 and 1909 BC.

In the genetic data, the team found common oral bacteria. In two individuals, he found Y. pestis, while in the other two individuals, two lineages of the bacteria Salmonella enterica were found, which cause typhoid fever. The findings indicated that both pathogens were present during Bronze Age Crete and may have been transmitted at that time.

Although the transmission route of these pathogens is not clear to the researchers, they found that S. enterica did not have traits that would be responsible for serious diseases in humans.

“Although it is unlikely that y pestis either s. enterica Were the only culprit responsible for the observed social changes in the Mediterranean at the end of the third millennium BC, we propose that, given the ancient DNA evidence presented here, infectious diseases should be considered as an additional contributing factor; possibly in interaction with climate and migration, which has been suggested previously,” the researchers published in their research paper. current biology

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