The site that reveals the legendary city of Troy still manages to hold many valuable discoveries for the entire world. Recently, the location became a point of interest for a team of disease detectives. Their main mission is to track down and study the evolutionary line of different bacteria and microbes across the world. A Troy mummy might hold the secret that is much coveted by this party.
An international team of scientists mainly from the McMaster University in Hamilton discovered some interesting samples of DNA. The revelatory tissue belongs to a 30-year-old woman who died about 80 years ago in Byzantine Troy. Her skeleton showed calcified placental abscesses which were preserved in a good state.
The woman was pregnant the moment she died with a male fetus. Researchers took an interest in the cause of her death. What they discovered is that the most plausible fatal agent was a urogenital infection probably triggered by either Gardnerella vaginalis or Staphylococcus saprophyticus or even both. This type of bacteria continues to wreak havoc among women even in today’s world. Their modern versions cause genital and urinary tract infections.
The Troy mummy helped scientists get a glimpse of some of the most widely spread diseases among women. Hendrik Poinar stated that according to their analysis, the staph bacteria have probably evolved initially in cows. As back days people used to live together with their livestock, this disease has probably started to affect women as well.
The discovery would not have been possible without the expertise of Henrike Kiesewetter, an archeologist who participated in Project Troia. He was the one that spotted the curious circumstances in which the pregnant woman died. The Troy mummy was buried in a graveyard located on the outskirts of Troy.
The calcified nodules were first believed to be traces of tuberculosis. However, the ancient samples of DNA proved to be something else. The disease detectives answered the call of visiting the digging site in Anatolia, Turkey. The discovered infection was peculiar as it was spread all around the placenta and amniotic fluids of the Troy mummy.
The two staph bacteria allowed scientists to understand more about the evolution of diseases. While the ancient G. vaginalis genome shares several similarities with its modern version, the other disease is strange. The 800-year-old S. saprophyticus is more similar to the strains of bacteria from today’s livestock. This discovery enables researchers to understand better how nature promotes infections. By studying the past events, experts hope to be prepared for future changes.
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