Kelvin, Nikki Ann (2015) Utilization of epidemiological, archaeological, and genome data for assessing the health of historic communities. Doctoral Thesis.
The Cattedrale Sant'Antonio Abate in Castelsardo, Sardinia, Italy, was constructed in the late 16th to the beginning of the 17th century, and its crypts were used for burials from the 17th century to the 19th century. During this period in Sardinia, several intense outbreaks and epidemics of infectious diseases occurred, including Yersinia pestis, smallpox, malaria, measles, cholera, and typhus. During a recent renovation to expand the cathedral’s museum, the skeletal remains of exceptionally well-preserved individuals, including several mummified individuals, were discovered. Male and female adults and children were interred in the crypt, and there were several interesting groupings that appeared to be family or mother-child burials, which suggested burials concurrent with epidemics and outbreaks of disease. Methodologies were developed to collect bioarchaeological samples with decreased risk of contamination from modern DNA. Analysis of the mitochondrial haplotype identified potential mother-child burials. Additional ancient DNA analysis indicates that several individuals died of smallpox or Yersinia pestis.
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