According to the WHO (2013), cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide today. Including a wide range of heart and blood vessel disorders, they are commonly linked to factors related to modern life such as smoking, obesity, a diet high in saturated fat, but also genetic reasons.
Even though CVDs represent a hallmark feature of the second epidemiological transition, occuring in most parts of the world during the 20th century, palaeopathological research on mummies and skeletal human remains is increasingly revealing evidence that CVDs have plagued humankind for a long time. These findings not only offer new information about morbidity in the past, but also allow for new insights into the evolution and aetiology of CVDs through contextualised bioarchaeological studies and biomolecular approaches. Nevertheless, evidence for CVDs in archaeological human remains is still scarce. This is particularly true for skeletal remains, linked to factors such as inadequate recovery strategies during excavation and lack of recognising evidence for CVDs, such as calcifications resulting from atherosclerosis.
With new evidence emerging in recent years, it is timely for a symposium to bring together expertise in palaeopathology, forensic anthropology, biomolecular archaeology and evolutionary medicine to discuss current knowledge of CVDs in past human populations, including new research perspectives, recovery strategies, taphonomic factors, and highlight the modern relevance of the insights gained from the data. Additionally, recent analyses of burials containing skeletal remains, show the potential for preservation of CVD evidence alongside skeletons, the expected ‘materials’ that bioarchaeologists study. This proposed symposium will lead to increasing awareness of the possibility and research potential of detecting evidence for CVDs in archaeological human remains within the bioarchaeological community, a step ultimately crucial to expanding the current dataset and allowing for wider insights into the epidemiology, history, and evolution of CVDs in the past.
|Discussion: Niels Lynnerup and Albert Zink|
|1||The impact of bioarchaeological study on understanding the evolution of cardiovascular disease. Charlotte A. Roberts.|
|2||Calcified structures as potential evidence of atherosclerosis associated with human skeletal remains from Amara West (1300–800BC). Michaela Binder, Charlotte A. Roberts.|
|3||Differential diagnosis of a calcified object from Meroitic Al Khiday 2, Central Sudan. Tina Jakob, Joe W. Walser III.|
|4||Survival of calcified atheromata in the archaeological record - The effect of taphonomy, excavation and curation strategies on preservation and analysis. Niels Lynnerup, Charlotte Roberts, Michaela Binder.|
|5||CT scan 3D visualisation of atheromas in Egyptian mummies: potential, limitations and the need for a more systematic approach. Daniel M. Antoine, Benjamin Moreno, John H. Taylor, Marie Vandenbeusch.|
|6||CT Evidence of Atherosclerosis in Ancient Mummies: The Horus Study of 220 Mummies from 5 Continents. Randall C. Thompson, Adel H. Allam, Guido P. Lombardi, L Samuel Wann, M Linda Sutherland, James D. Sutherland, Albert Zink, Muhammad Al-Tohamy Soliman, Bruno Frohlich, Janet M. Monge, Clide M. Vallodolid, Samantha E. Cox, Gomaa Abd el-Maksoud, Ibrahim Badr, Michael Miyamoto, Abd el-Halim Nured-din, Luchia Watson, David Michalik, Samantha I. King, Jagat Narula, Caleb E. Finch, Gregory S. Thomas.|
|7||The Genetic Background of Atherosclerosis in Ancient Mummies. Albert R. Zink, Samuel Wann, Randall C. Thompson, Andreas Keller, Frank Maixner, Adel H. Allam, Caleb E. Finch, Bruno Frohlich, Guido P. Lombardi, M Linda. Sutherland, James D. Sutherland, Lucia Watson, Samantha L. Cox, Michael I. Miyamoto, Jagat Narula, Alexandre F. Stewart, Johannes Krause, Gregory S. Thomas.|