Leprosy in the early medieval Lauchheim community.


:Leprosy was a well-recognized and dreaded disease in medieval Europe (5th-15th century AD). It is reported to have reached Germany with the Roman invasion. A much larger fraction than previously assumed appears to have been affected by leprosy in the medieval period. This article estimates the frequency (i.e., the prevalence at death) of leprosy among adult people buried in the Lauchheim early medieval cemetery. Seven different dichotomous osteological lesions indicative of leprosy are analyzed, and it is possible to score at least one of these conditions on 110 adult skeletons (aged 15 or more). The scores were transformed to a statistic--lambda (lambda)--indicating the likelihood that the person to whom the skeleton belonged suffered from leprosy. The analyses indicate that 16% (95% confidence interval: 9-23%) of adult people in Lauchheim died with osteological signs of leprosy. Leprosy was significantly more prevalent among men than women. The lambda statistic indicates that people who died with signs of leprosy did not differ in the distribution of age at death from those who did not have such signs. Some of the leprosy-related lesions had a statistically significant nonrandom dispersal on the cemetery; but there is no clear pattern to this and the significant results could be easily attributed to a type-1 error in the statistical analysis.


Am J Phys Anthropol


Boldsen JL




Has Abstract


2008-03-01 00:00:00












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