Ear­li­est ev­i­dence of in­fec­tious dis­eases car­ried on Silk Road

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOG­ICAL NEWS -

An an­cient la­trine near a desert in north­west­ern China has re­vealed the first ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ev­i­dence that trav­ellers along the Silk Road were re­spon­si­ble for the spread of in­fec­tious dis­eases along huge dis­tances of the route 2,000 years ago.

Cam­bridge re­searchers used mi­croscopy to study pre­served fae­ces on an­cient ‘per­sonal hy­giene sticks’ in the la­trine at what was a large Silk Road re­lay sta­tion on the east­ern mar­gins of the Tam­rin Basin, a re­gion that con­tains the Tak­la­makan desert. The la­trine is thought to date from 111 BC (Han Dy­nasty) and was in use un­til 109 AD. They found that eggs from four species of par­a­sitic worm were present, in­clud­ing Chi­nese Liver­fluke which comes from a marshy en­vi­ron­ment, over 2,000 miles away. Its pres­ence means trav­ellers were tak­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases with them over huge dis­tances.

2,000-year-old per­sonal hy­giene sticks with re­mains of cloth, ex­ca­vated from the la­trine at Xuan­quanzhi

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