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Richard III suffered from roundworm infection
Researchers based at the University of Cambridge and the University of Leicester have uncovered evidence that Richard III suffered from a roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) infection, according to a Clinical Picture published in The Lancet.
The body of Richard III, who ruled England from 1483 – 85, was discovered in 2012 by archaeologists at the University of Leicester, and scientists have since been undertaking careful analysis of the remains, in an attempt to shed further light on the attributes and history of the controversial king.
A team of researchers led by Dr Piers Mitchell, of the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, UK, used a powerful microscope to examine soil samples taken from the skeleton’s pelvis and skull, as well as from the soil surrounding the grave. The microscope revealed multiple roundworm eggs in the soil sample taken from the pelvis, where the intestines would have been situated in life. However, there was no sign of eggs in soil from the skull, and very few eggs in the soil that surrounded the grave, suggesting that the eggs found in the pelvis area resulted from a genuine roundworm infection during his life, rather than from external contamination by the later dumping of human waste in the area.
Roundworms are parasitic nematodes, which infect humans when people ingest their eggs via contaminated food, water, or soil. Once eaten, the eggs hatch into larvae, which migrate through the tissues of the body to the lungs where they mature. They then crawl up the airways to the throat to be swallowed back into the intestines, where they can grow into adults around a foot long. Roundworm infection is thought to be one of the commonest health conditions in the world, affecting up to a quarter of all people globally, although it is rare in the UK today.
According to Dr Mitchell, “Our results show that Richard was infected with roundworms in his intestines, although no other species of intestinal parasite were present in the samples we studied. We would expect nobles of this period to have eaten meats such as beef, pork and fish regularly, but there was no evidence for the eggs of the beef, pork or fish tapeworm. This may suggest that his food was cooked thoroughly, which would have prevented the transmission of these parasites.”
Dr Jo Appleby, Lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology at the University of Leicester, UK, said: “Despite Richard's noble background, it appears that his lifestyle did not completely protect him from intestinal parasite infection, which would have been very common at the time.” The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society. The originator of the Search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society.
Full bibliographic information 'The intestinal parasites of King Richard III' Piers D Mitchell, Hui-Yuan Yeh, Jo Appleby, Richard Buckley Published online in the Lancet, September 4, 2013
Stonehenge laser scanning reveals Rock Art and much more
Following a detailed laser scan of Stonehenge last year, an analysis has just been published by English Heritage. It reveals many more axe carvings and much new information on how the stones were shaped. More..
Hoard of 70,000 Iron Age Coins found on Jersey in the english channel islands
When metal detectorists Reg Mead and Richard Miles found Iron Age coins under a Jersey field, they promptly reported their find to Jersey Heritage who excavated to reveal a massive hoard of coins dating to around 56BC. The hoard is still largely in one piece and is being excavated under laboratory conditions by Neil Mahrer. More..
Inhabitants of Madrid' ate elephants' meat and bone marrow 80,000 years ago
Humans that populated the banks of the river Manzanares (Madrid, Spain) during the Middle Palaeolithic (between 127,000 and 40,000 years ago) fed themselves on pachyderm meat and bone marrow. This is what a Spanish study shows and has found percussion and cut marks on elephant remains in the site of Preresa, Madrid.
18th Century shipwreck under the world trade center, new york
Well preserved 5th century AD ship found in istanbul
Bronze Age Mummies from scotland made from jigsaw of body Parts
Two of the skeletons found at Cladh Halan, South Uist, Scotland in 2001 were made up from a number of people, according to new research.
Neolithic Cosmology: A carving of a Comet
Was Halley’s Comet visible in the skies above Orkney in the later Neolithic, say around 3000BC to 2500 BC? The archaeologists at the Ness of Brodgar have just uncovered what they call a “Comet Stone”, which bears a good resemblance to Halley's Comet. It was found last Friday (12 August) in Structure Ten and it features a circle with three slightly diverging lines trailing after it. Tweet me at archaeology_ws if you know.
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Top archaeology news sites
There are many websites with the latest world archaeological news. Here are Win Scutt's top recommendations:
- Archaeologica Hand-picked links to each day's top stories. Usually about six per day.
- Archaeology Magazine Updated every weekday, a summary with links to about six news stories.
- BBC Latest Archaeology News Selected top stories - about one per day
- National Geographic Ancient World News Brief summaries linked to full stories written by National Geographic reporters. About one story per day.
- Discovery Channel Brief summaries linked to pages, about one story per day.
- Stone Pages Archaeo News
- EurekAlert Public Releases of latest research. About 2 per week.
- Science Daily Brief summaries and links to full stories by Science Daily reporters. Mixed with Palaeontology stories. One per day.
- Archaeology News Automatic News Feed
- Explorator Links to David Meadow's weekly newsletters, each containing about 50 links to the week's stories.
- Archaeology in Europe Regularly updated with summaries and links. About 20 stories per week, but only Europe.
- Google Archaeology News. Search results for the last week. Automatically listed, so much irrelevant material.
- Yahoo Anthropology and Archaeology Automatic news feed with some irrelevant content.
- Topix Archaeology News A mixed collection of news stories