The 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2018)

Session 8. Malaria in the Past: Current Research into one of Humanity’s Oldest Plagues. Invited Poster Symposium. Chair: Michaela Binder, Michelle Gamble, Tracy Prowse, Stephanie Marciniak Co-organizers: Binder, Michaela, Austrian Archaeological Institute; Gamble, Michelle, Austrian Archaeological Institute; Prowse, Tracy, McMaster University; Marciniak, Stefanie, Pennsylvania State University

April 12, 2018 , Hill Country B-C Add to calendar

Malaria is assumed to be a disease of considerable antiquity and thus would have likely had significant impact on past human populations through decreased productivity, morbidity, and high levels of mortality. Yet, unambiguous evidence for the presence of the malaria parasite has proven difficult to detect in archaeological human remains; therefore its origins, evolution, history, as well as the consequences for people in the past, remain largely unknown. Finding new ways to identify the presence and epidemiology of the disease would significantly influence our understanding of the past including important historicepisodes such as the decline of the ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean. Moreover, in-line with the increasing importance of evolutionary approaches in modern medicine, understanding the evolution of malaria has the potential to provide significant contributions in elucidating the development of the host-pathogen relationship, which may prove crucial for creating a successful solution to the malaria problem.

Recent advances in biomolecular approaches in bioarchaeologyhave also brought about a proliferation of research into malaria in the past leading to first successful identifications of Plasmodium DNA in archaeological human remains. This has further been supported by an increased focus on systematic paleopathological analyses of skeletal changes related to secondary symptoms of malaria. This session aims to bring together researchers in bioarchaeology, paleopathology, biomolecular archaeology, and clinical research in order to discuss recent developments in the study of malaria in archaeological human remains, address difficulties of identifying malaria in the past, and to present the latest findings and methodological approaches.

Individual Poster Presentations
General Discussion
1 Add to calendar 'Ague', 'Spring Ill' and 'Fever Terciane': Vivax Malaria and Social Constructions of 'Otherness' in the Anglo-Saxon Fens of England (AD 500-1050). Rebecca L. Gowland, Lisa Brundle, Gaynor Western.
2 Add to calendar Distinguishing skeletal lesions of malaria from comorbidities and coexisting metabolic conditions at Amarna, Egypt. Nicole E. Smith-Guzmán, Gretchen R. Dabbs, Heidi S. Davis, Ashley E. Shidner.
3 Add to calendar Testing new methods on old bones: Searching for malaria in Archaeological material using a multi-dimensional approach. Alvie Loufouma, Michelle Gamble, Michaela Binder, Frank Maixner, Harald Noedl, Albert Zink.
4 Add to calendar New Excavations of Malaria-Affected Victims at Lugnano in Teverina, Italy. David Pickel, David Soren, Jamie Inwood.
5 Add to calendar Malaria in the rural hinterland of southern Italy: A multi-faceted anthropological and genomic perspective from Vagnari (1st-4th c. C.E.). Stephanie Marciniak, Hendrik N. Poinar, Tracy L. Prowse.
6 Add to calendar 2000 year old case of β-thalassemia in Sardinia: implications for malaria history. Claudia Viganó, Cordula Haas, Frank J. Rühli, Abigail S. Bouwman.
7 Add to calendar Malaria in the prehistoric Caribbean: The hunt for hemozoin. Mallory D. Cox.