Mid-7th century BC human parasite remains from Jerusalem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To determine the species of intestinal parasites present in 7th century BC high-status residents of Jerusalem and to expose the history of regional health and sanitary conditions. Materials: Fifteen sediment samples were collected from the cesspit below a stone toilet seat found at the site of Armon Hanatziv, southern Jerusalem. The toilet installation was located in a garden adjacent to a monumental structure with extraordinary architectural elements. Methods: A light microscope was used to identify and measure the eggs. Results: The presence of four intestinal parasite egg taxa was detected: Trichuris trichiura (whipworm), Taenia sp. (beef/pork tapeworm), Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworm), and Enterobius vermicularis (pinworm). This is the earliest appearance of roundworm and pinworm in the ancient Israel parasitological record. Conclusions: Findings reveal that intestinal parasitic diseases most likely caused by poor sanitary conditions were a human problem in the Late Iron Age of Israel, affecting even high-status groups. Significance: The study demonstrates the potential of archaeoparasitological investigations to expand our knowledge of the origin and history of regional infections. Moreover, parasitological evidence enabled us to determine the purpose of the cubical perforated stone artifacts (stone toilet seats rather than cultic objects as currently debated). Limitations: The eggs of some parasite taxa are less durable, so may theoretically be absent due to selective preservation. Suggestions for Further Research: Future excavations of ancient Israel should include archaeoparasitological studies of rare toilet installations to prevent information loss of regional history of diseases and to better understand their archaeological context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Paleopathology
Volume36
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Archaeoparasitology
  • Armon Hanatziv
  • Human parasitology
  • Intestinal parasite eggs
  • Iron Age Jerusalem
  • Toilet seat

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Mid-7th century BC human parasite remains from Jerusalem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this