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<jats:p> Throughout history, humans have been afflicted by parasitic worms, and eggs are readily detected in archaeological deposits. This study integrated parasitological and ancient DNA methods with a large sample set dating between Neolithic and Early Modern periods to explore the utility of molecular archaeoparasitology as a new approach to study the past. Molecular analyses provided unequivocal species-level parasite identification and revealed location-specific epidemiological signatures. Faecal–oral transmitted nematodes ( <jats:italic>Ascaris lumbricoides</jats:italic> and <jats:italic>Trichuris trichiura</jats:italic> ) were ubiquitous across time and space. By contrast, high numbers of food-associated cestodes ( <jats:italic>Diphyllobothrium latum</jats:italic> and <jats:italic>Taenia saginata</jats:italic> ) were restricted to medieval Lübeck. The presence of these cestodes and changes in their prevalence at approximately 1300 CE indicate substantial alterations in diet or parasite availability. <jats:italic>Trichuris trichiura</jats:italic> ITS-1 sequences grouped into two clades; one ubiquitous and one restricted to medieval Lübeck and Bristol. The high sequence diversity of <jats:italic>T.t</jats:italic> .ITS-1 detected in Lübeck is consistent with its importance as a Hanseatic trading centre. Collectively, these results introduce molecular archaeoparasitology as an artefact-independent source of historical evidence. </jats:p>

Original publication




Journal article


Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences


The Royal Society

Publication Date





20180991 - 20180991