Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Did Alexander do it?

Skeleton 4,000 Years Old Bears Evidence of Leprosy

Where leprosy came from--and how it entered Europe--has been a mystery. Now, evidence from a bear skeleton points up a possible link with an important historical figure:

...The skeleton, about 4,000 years old, was found at the site of Balathal, near Udaipur in northwestern India. Historians have long considered the Indian subcontinent to be the source of the leprosy that was first reported in Europe in the fourth century B.C., shortly after the armies of Alexander the Great returned from India.

In addition, ancient religious texts now demonstrate some medical significance:

...The authors say their find confirms that a passage in the Atharva Veda, a set of Sanskrit hymns written around 1550 B.C., indeed refers to leprosy, a reading that had been doubted because until now the oldest accepted written accounts of the disease were from the sixth century B.C.

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