Friday, 9 December 2016

Human blood, organs, and a surprising virus detected in ancient pottery

My latest article for Science Magazine (the most popular news story on their website in December 2016!):

A reconstruction of Heuneburg hillfort, 
where the vessels were found
(Photo: Kenny Arne Lang Antonsen CC BY-SA 4.0)

Sometime between 600 and 450 B.C.E., a high-status individual in what is today Germany developed some disturbing symptoms: large bruises, bleeding from the nose and gums, and bloody diarrhea and urine. His fellow villagers, shocked—or perhaps intrigued—by his condition, stored his blood and organs in pottery vessels after he died, and interred them in a burial mound. Now, using a novel technique based on analyzing ancient proteins, archaeologists have reconstructed the contents of these vessels to conclude that the individual likely died from Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV), a severe tick-borne disease that still kills people across the world today.

You can read the full article here: Human blood, organs, and a surprising virus detected in ancient pottery