1887

Abstract

We have examined four burials from the St Mary Magdalen mediaeval cemetery in Winchester, Hampshire, UK. One (Sk.8) was a male child, two (Sk.45 and Sk.52) were adolescent females and the fourth (Sk.512) was an adult male. The cemetery was in use between the 10th and 12th centuries. All showed skeletal lesions of leprosy. Additionally, one of the two females (Sk.45) had lesions suggestive of multi-cystic tuberculosis and the second (Sk.52) of leprogenic odontodysplasia (LO), a rare malformation of the roots of the permanent maxillary incisors.

Relatively little is known of the manifestations of lepromatous leprosy (LL) in younger individuals from the archaeological record.

To address this, we have used ancient DNA testing and osteological examination of the individuals, supplemented with X-ray and microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) scan as necessary to assess the disease status.

The presence of DNA was confirmed in both females, and genotyping showed SNP type 3I-1 strains but with a clear genotypic variation. We could not confirm complex DNA in the female individual SK.45. High levels of DNA were found within the pulp cavities of four maxillary teeth from the male child (Sk.8) with LO, consistent with the theory that the replication of in alveolar bone may interfere with root formation at key stages of development. We report our biomolecular findings in these individuals and review the evidence this site has contributed to our knowledge of mediaeval leprosy.

Keyword(s): aDNA , leprosy , mediaeval , PCR and tuberculosis
  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. This article was made open access via a Publish and Read agreement between the Microbiology Society and the corresponding author’s institution.
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2024-02-16
2024-05-21
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