Monday, December 19, 2016
In paleoparasitology, which is the study of ancient parasite species, parasite egg remnants in archaeological samples are examined by microscopic or molecular analysis. The parasitological information thus obtained can inform speculation about the parasite-infection patterns that prevailed in ancient societies. The current analysis of ancient feces removed from Joseon period mummies adds six new paleoparasitological outcomes to the existing pool of mummy parasitism data already maintained in South Korea. The current microscopic examination revealed the ancient parasite eggs of Trichuris, Clonorchis, Paragonimus, Ascaris, and Taenia in the Joseon mummy feces. When the updated Joseon data were compared with the 20th-century National Survey statistics of South Korea, clear differences could be observed between ancient and modern parasite infection rates. These results will yield invaluable insights -unobtainable by conventional historical investigation-that contribute to the knowledge base on the parasitism of pre-industrial East Asian societies.