Skip to comments.Medieval DNA suggests Columbus didn't trigger syphilis epidemic in Europe
Posted on 08/17/2020 8:50:11 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Researchers have long clashed over the circumstances of the 1495 European syphilis epidemic. The so-called Columbian theory posits that Columbus and his crew carried the bacterium, or an earlier progenitor of it, when they returned to Europe in 1493 after their American journey. Skeletons of Native Americans who died prior to Columbus's arrival show bone lesions from Treponemal diseases, including yaws and bejel, and some researchers suspect syphilis was also present. However, other researchers believe syphilis itself circulated in Europe for centuries and became more virulent in the late 1400s. They point to a growing body of archaeological evidence: skeletal remains from across Europe with suggestive bone lesions, some possibly dating to the 14th century. Yet the evidence has always been inconclusive: Bone lesions can be caused by any of the Treponemal diseases, and some people with syphilis may not develop skeletal signs.
Now, a team of scientists has examined nine skeletons with suspected syphilis from five archaeological sites in Finland, Estonia, and the Netherlands. The researchers ground the bones into powder and analyzed it for signs of Treponemal DNA, which is notoriously difficult to recover because the bacterium is present only in small amounts and decomposes quickly...
The researchers managed to recover and sequence Treponemal DNA from four samples and compared the sequences with a modern syphilis strain. They used a molecular clock technique that tracks changes in the genes over time to estimate the ages of the strains, and calibrated those ages with carbon dating of the skeletons and wood of the coffins they were buried in...
Although the radiocarbon dates are inherently uncertain and are bounded at the upper end by dates into the early 1600s...
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencemag.org ...
...the researchers are sticking to their original assumption instead of coming to a conclusion based on evidence.
and from the FRchives:
The syphilis keyword has a bunch of Bill Clinton topics for some reason.
I did not know they claimed this but it’s cool to know this.
I was thinking Clinton instead of Columbus before I even scrolled down. No cigar for me. :>)
Erratum: I accidentally left in the Playboy topic, I guess the antiquity of the late Hugh Hefner threw me off my game.
Does this mean they will not tear down the Columbus statues? Asking for a friend....
Someone will start covering them with giant latex-free condoms (for protestors with a latex allergy).
Turns out, after he retired, Bill invented a time machine, and...
If they are in Italian neighborhoods we are guarding them now.
We will bury blm and tell their mothers they are never coming home.
So, ol’ Chris may have been a randy lad, but he didn’t bring home the Devil’s Crotch Crickets to the wife then, did he?
This reminds me of a scene in the Naked Gun.
GRANT MONEY IS FOREVER!!
I’d heard this idea years ago. There really was no evidence that the voyages spread syphilus in Europe. Some people just liked the idea.
On the flip side there was no evidence that Europeans spread tuberculosis in the New World either. Later on it was proven that tuberculosis has been in the New World for many thousands of years.
I just love scientific facts.......................
You should. The idea of fixed, absolute knowledge was the first thing that was killed off by the scientific revolution. Even some scientists sometimes forget that.
It was a cultural exchange. Columbus gave the Indians smallpox, and they returned the favor with syphilis.
There’s plenty of evidence that syphilis was not present in the “old world” prior to 1492. It’s well discussed in another topic around here (linked above). It poses a bit of difficulty for those like me who recognize the evidence for a great antiquity for oceanic navigation. Syphilis appears to have been homegrown in isolation in the “new world”.
He had too much on his mind. Given the cancel culture environment, I’m surprised there’s a big push to attribute a long history to syphilis in Europe. :^)
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