The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

A unique constellation of pathological features in a 13th century adolescent male from Illinois: treponematosis with destructive lesion of the palate, orthopedic complications, and other anomalies


Department of Anthropology, Indiana University Bloomington

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Gentleman Farms (11LS27) is an Upper Mississippian Langford Tradition site from LaSalle County in northeastern Illinois. The village and burial mound were excavated in 1940. The site was later dated to the 13th century. Individual LS2-40 is an adolescent male from a pre-mound interment. The fragmentary skull is thin and a destructive lesion of the right orbit suggests a lacrimal gland lesion or cyst. A large circular defect of the palate has reactive margins. There is dense reactive bone in the maxillary sinus and the nasal cavity. The mandible is atrophied: second molars were lost early in life and third molars are carious. The right humerus displays a depressed surface in the area of the deltoid with a very wide radial groove and very poorly developed deltoid insertion. The left humerus was not recovered but both forearms are unremarkable.

Cortical bone in the right femur and tibia is thin. The right distal femur is reactive and the epiphysis is fused, unlike the left. Both fibulae show osteitis, surface distortion, and dense medullary bone. The midshafts are irregular and roughly doubled in diameter. There are destructive lesions of the heads of the right first phalanx and fifth metatarsal. The left foot has a coalition of the third tarsometatarsal joint.

LS2-40 suffered from multiple conditions. Differential diagnosis includes treponematosis, non-specific osteomyelitis, developmental anomalies, trauma, and feeding difficulties secondary to the oral lesions. “A dog may have both ticks and fleas.”

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