Bacterial infections

Charlotte A. Roberts, Jane E. Buikstra

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

36 Scopus citations


This chapter considers infections that may be observed in archaeological human remains that can be attributed to specific bacteria, rather than a range of organisms (including bacteria) that may have caused bone changes present. Tuberculosis, leprosy and treponemal disease are the key infections that have been identified in (mainly) human skeletal remains, with brucellosis, glanders, actinomycosis and nocardiosis being rarely reported in the published literature, to date. This latter observation in part may be due to a real absence of evidence in the past, but also could be caused by a lack of published and unambiguous diagnostic criteria (e.g. for brucellosis). Considerations of the presence of the plague in the past, including its recognition through ancient DNA analysis concludes the chapter. Throughout the chapter emphasis is placed on recording the characteristics and distribution of bone changes, and dental alterations where appropriate, and considering differential diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOrtner's Identification of Pathological Conditions in Human Skeletal Remains
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9780128097380
ISBN (Print)9780128099018
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Actinomycosis
  • Brucellosis
  • Glanders
  • Leprosy
  • Nocardiosis
  • Plague
  • Treponemal disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • aDNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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