University of Cambridge > > Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series > A Glimpse into the lives of 'Leprosy' and Hansens disease sufferers through time

A Glimpse into the lives of 'Leprosy' and Hansens disease sufferers through time

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ruairidh Macleod.

Hansen’s Disease (HD) – colloquially known as leprosy – is one of the most culturally-laden diseases in human history, largely attributable to dramatic and debilitating physical lesions. Although we now know that the change and severity of infection depend upon immune system proficiency, ‘leprosy’, and those inflicted with it, have frequently been the subject of negative generalizations resulting from the conflation of HD with ‘Biblical leprosy’. Recent historic research has however shown this odium towards ‘lepers’ may be more severe today than it was in the past, and has demonstrated that the lives of ‘lepers’ were much more varied than initially thought. The lives of those diagnosed with the condition may have unravelled differently after diagnosis based on status, gender, age, location at the time of diagnosis, severity of lesions, and more significantly, personal choice. In order to explore this variation in the lived-experience of those with HD/leprosy, my project chronologically sequences the information gleaned from the analysis of the archaeological human remains themselves, combined with a study of their burial and environmental context, historic records, skeletal palaeopathology, dietary isotopes of early versus late life (to reconstruct dietary change), and human and pathogen DNA . This talk provides a glimpse into the data thus far gathered for my project.

This talk is part of the Pitt-Rivers Archaeological Science Seminar Series series.

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