Early medieval cattle remains from a Scandinavian settlement in Dublin: genetic analysis and comparison with extant breeds.
A panel of cattle bones excavated from the 1000-year-old Viking Fishamble Street site in Dublin was assessed for the presence of surviving mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Eleven of these bones gave amplifiable mtDNA and a portion of the hypervariable control region was determined for each specimen. A comparative analysis was performed with control region sequences from five extant Nordic and Irish cattle breeds. The medieval population displayed similar levels of mtDNA diversity to modern European breeds. However, a number of novel mtDNA haplotypes were also detected in these bone samples. In addition, the presence of a putative ancestral sequence at high frequency in the medieval population supports an early post-domestication expansion of cattle in Europe. (+info)
How microbial ancient DNA, found in association with human remains, can be interpreted.
The analysis of the DNA of ancient micro-organisms in archaeological and palaeontological human remains can contribute to the understanding of issues as different as the spreading of a new disease, a mummification process or the effect of diets on historical human populations. The quest for this type of DNA, however, can represent a particularly demanding task. This is mainly due to the abundance and diffusion of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae and protozoans in the most diverse environments of the present-day biosphere and the resulting difficulty in distinguishing between ancient and modern DNA. Nevertheless, at least under some special circumstances, by using rigorous protocols, which include an archaeometric survey of the specimens and evaluation of the palaeoecological consistency of the results of DNA sequence analysis, glimpses of the composition of the original microbial flora (e.g. colonic flora) can be caught in ancient human remains. Potentials and pitfalls of this research field are illustrated by the results of research works performed on prehistoric, pre-Columbian and Renaissance human mummies. (+info)
Analysis of ancient DNA from a prehistoric Amerindian cemetery.
The Norris Farms No. 36 cemetery in central Illinois has been the subject of considerable archaeological and genetic research. Both mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA have been examined in this 700-year-old population. DNA preservation at the site was good, with about 70% of the samples producing mtDNA results and approximately 15% yielding nuclear DNA data. All four of the major Amerindian mtDNA haplogroups were found, in addition to a fifth haplogroup. Sequences of the first hypervariable region of the mtDNA control region revealed a high level of diversity in the Norris Farms population and confirmed that the fifth haplogroup associates with Mongolian sequences and hence is probably authentic. Other than a possible reduction in the number of rare mtDNA lineages in many populations, it does not appear as if European contact significantly altered patterns of Amerindian mtDNA variation, despite the large decrease in population size that occurred. For nuclear DNA analysis, a novel method for DNA-based sex identification that uses nucleotide differences between the X and Y copies of the amelogenin gene was developed and applied successfully in approximately 20 individuals. Despite the well-known problems of poor DNA preservation and the ever-present possibility of contamination with modern DNA, genetic analysis of the Norris Farms No. 36 population demonstrates that ancient DNA can be a fruitful source of new insights into prehistoric populations. (+info)
Genotypic analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from medieval human remains.
Three medieval bone samples with osteological evidence of tuberculosis infection were analysed for the presence of DNA sequences from Mycobacterium tuberculosis using a series of PCRs. In each case amplification of IS6110 and part of the beta-subunit of RNA polymerase identified infection with a bacterium belonging to the M. tuberculosis complex. Amplification of the mtp40 genome fragment and the presence of a guanine residue at position 285 in the oxyR pseudogene, demonstrated the infecting strain to be similar to present day M. tuberculosis isolates rather than to Mycobacterium bovis. Spoligotyping, based on amplification of the direct repeat (DR) region of the mycobacterial genome, provided further evidence of similarity to M. tuberculosis and indicated a close relationship between isolates associated with two separate medieval burials. The study demonstrates the feasibility of amplifying multiple M. tuberculosis loci in ancient human remains and suggests important applications in the study of the palaeoepidemiology and virulence of tuberculosis in past populations. (+info)
Abandonment of terminally ill patients in the Byzantine era. An ancient tradition?
Our research on the texts of the Byzantine historians and chroniclers revealed an apparently curious phenomenon, namely, the abandonment of terminally ill emperors by their physicians when the latter realised that they could not offer any further treatment. This attitude tallies with the mentality of the ancient Greek physicians, who even in Hippocratic times thought the treatment and care of the terminally ill to be a challenge to nature and hubris to the gods. Nevertheless, it is a very curious attitude in the light of the concepts of the Christian Byzantine physicians who, according to the doctrines of the Christian religion, should have been imbued with the spirit of philanthropy and love for their fellowmen. The meticulous analysis of three examples of abandonment of Byzantine emperors, and especially that of Alexius I Comnenus, by their physicians reveals that this custom, following ancient pagan ethics, in those times took on a ritualised form without any significant or real content. (+info)
Graffiti - visual memory of Croatian history.
Throughout the Middle Ages a unique Croatian Glagolitic script co-existed with Latin and western Cyrillic scripts, thus creating an open, large, and tolerant cultural environment. Many works common to European cultural heritage were translated into Croatian (Church Slavonic) language and preserved in the Glagolitic script. Among the oldest preserved Glagolitic monuments carved in stone are the so-called tables from Baska on the island Krk and Valun (11th-12th century) containing not only many names and church dedications but also valuable historical data. For centuries this script also provided a vehicle of transferring and preserving medical knowledge. (+info)
Age estimate of the N370S mutation causing Gaucher disease in Ashkenazi Jews and European populations: A reappraisal of haplotype data.
The N370S mutation at the GBA locus on human chromosome 1q21, which causes Gaucher disease (GD), has a high frequency in the Ashkenazim and is the second-most-widespread GD mutation in the European non-Jewish population. A common ancient origin for the N370S mutation in the Ashkenazi Jewish and Spanish populations has been proposed on the basis of both a similar haplotype for associated markers and an age estimate that suggests that this mutation appeared several thousand years ago. However, a reappraisal of haplotype data, using the Risch formula properly along with a Luria-Delbruck setting of the genetic clock, allows identification of the likely origin of the N370S mutation in Ashkenazi Jews between the 11th and 13th centuries. This result is consistent with the estimated ages of other mutations that are frequent among Ashkenazim, with the exception of type II (Glu117Stop) factor XI deficiency, which is deemed to be >3000 years old, predating the separation of the Ashkenazi and Iraqi Jews. The present finding supports the hypothesis of a more recent origin for the N370S mutation and is consistent with both a founder chromosome transfer from Ashkenazim who assimilated in some European populations and a non-Jewish origin of the European N370S-bearing chromosomes. (+info)
Ophthalmology's future in the next decade: a historical and comparative perspective.
PURPOSE: To gain a historical and comparative perspective about the future of ophthalmology within the profession of medicine. METHODS: A literature search is made of disciplines other than medicine (history, sociology, philosophy, economics, and ethics) in order to assess factors responsible for survival and healthiness of a profession. The "learned" professions (medicine, law, and theology) are assessed. Other "professional" careers valued by society (sports and classical music) are reviewed. RESULTS: From the perspective of other disciplines, the future of ophthalmology is seen as vulnerable and fragile. Survival of professions, be they classically or economically defined, is linked to societal needs, a profession's unique commitment and ability to provide services to society, and the profession's maintenance of knowledge as well as skill-based services. Historical evidence has shown erosion of a profession's power consequent to capitalist influences, government influences, access of skills by less trained individuals, and elitist posturing by a profession. Comparative evidence has shown societal acceptance of an escalation of salaries for designated superstars, increasing roles and influence of managerial personnel, and trivialization of values other than economic ones. CONCLUSION: Attention to historical and comparative trends by individual ophthalmologists as well as associations representing ophthalmologists is mandatory if ophthalmology as we know it is to survive within the profession of medicine. (+info)