The Anthropology of Infectious Diseases of Bronze Age and Early Iron Age from Armenia

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A. Yu. Khudaverdyan

Abstract

This study reviews the evidence for the presence of specific infectious diseases in Armenian skeletal series of Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. Throughout human history, pathogens have been responsible for the majority of human deaths. Factors such as age, sex, and nutritional status can influence whether an individual contracts and develops a particular infection, while environmental conditions, such as climate, sanitation, pollution, and contact with others will affect the susceptibility of a population. The frequencies of such signs as osteomyelitis, peridontal disease, leprosy, abscesses, and so forth, testify that the people experienced a variety of forces and durations - both internal and external - of stressful influences. Individuals from Sevan region may have had more chronic infections due to continued exposure to pathogens
during their lives as well as traumatic injuries. Seven individuals had nasopharyngeal lesions consistent with a diagnosis of leprosy. Dental caries was less severe in the Sevan region, although dental abscesses (51 individuals) and antemortem tooth loss (87 individuals) were more prevalent. In contrast, periodontal disease (8/18 adults) and antemortem loss (8/18 adults) of the molars were more prevalent at the Shiraksky plain. Data focusing on climate influence, migratory, and cultural habits in the past are discussed.