"Urbanization and Ancient Parasitism" presented at Annual meeting of AAPA


Our abstract was presented at annual meeting of AAPA 2019:  Cleveland, March 27-30 (Huntington Convention Center Cleveland; Hilton Cleveland Downtown).

Session type: Poster
Session: Bioarchaeology of Urbanization: The Biological, Demographic, and Social Consequences of Population Increase and Agglomeration
Day: Friday, March 29
Time: Poster #17 8:00-12:00
Room: CC Room 22

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Urbanization and Ancient Parasitism

DONG HOON SHIN1, SANG-YUCK SHIM2, HWA YOUNG LEE2, YONGJUN KIM1, JONG HA HONG1 and MIN SEO3

1Department of Anatomy, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 2Department of Archaeology, The Baekje Culture Foundation, 3Department of Parasitology, Dankook University College of Medicine

The impact of urbanization on human civilization, especially on the health status and disease states of ancient populations, is very large, because different kinds of infectious diseases newly emerged, became endemic or sometimes disappeared as urbanization progressed in human history. Archaeoparasitologists presumed that a similar phenomenon has been occurring in parasitism during urbanization, as the infection rates of soil transmitted helminths doubtless increased when large numbers of people came to congregate and live progressively sedentary lifestyles in limited spaces. Whereas this conjecture is reasonable with reference to modern clinical reports, it has not been supported by bioarchaeological evidence so far. In this sense, our archaeoparasitological studies of the last 10 years, performed on specimens collected at excavation sites in South Korea, are meaningful to concerned researchers. In this presentation, we will introduce our studies on ar chaeological specimens of the ancient BaekjeKingdom: samples from Buyeo, the capital city of the Kingdom, and others from outlying counties. We found that soil-transmitted helminth eggs were evident mostly in the capital city samples, with very few in the county specimens. This strongly suggests that parasitism in ancient Korean society was closely related to population density, in that the counties of the Baekje Kingdom were so sparsely populated that there was a significantly lesser probability of soil-transmitted parasite infection relative to the capital city. Our series of studies shows that parasitism, especially in the form of soil-transmitted helminth infections, might have been seriously influenced by urbanization in human history.

*This work was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean government (MSIP) (NRF-2016R1A2B4015669).

**This presentation will be published in Springer book as an chapter.

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