The discovery of a skeleton at UK burial site has an astonishing secret, archaeologists have determined.
Scientists in the UK have discovered a skeleton at a burial site that could tell them a lot about the history of leprosy. The remains were discovered at one of the earliest known hospitals in Winchester, Hampshire, and they appear to belong to a religious pilgrim who caught the disease while traveling.
Leprosy became fairly common in Europe during the Middle Ages, and scientists think that it was because of pilgrimages like this. There was a rise in leprosy hospitals between the 11th and 14th centuries in Western Europe, and for a while it baffled scientists as to why there was a sudden spike in the ancient disease.
Leprosy is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae. It has been around for thousands of years and even made multiple appearances in the Bible. It develops slowly and results in skin lesions and deformities. People are still affected by it today in some areas on Earth.
This particular skeleton appears to be from the late 11th or early 12th century. The strain of leprosy he had appeared to have come from central or western Asia.