Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

February 2003


Citation: Reinhard KJ, Buikstra JE (2003) Louse infestation of the Chiribaya Culture, Southern Peru: variation in prevalence by age and sex. Memorias do Instituto do Oswaldo Cruz 98:173-179.


In order to improve the interpretive potential of archaeoparasitology, it is important to demonstrate that the epidemiology of ancient parasites is comparable to that of modern parasites. Once this is demonstrated, then we can be secure that the evidence of ancient parasitism truly reflects the pathoecology of parasitic disease. Presented here is an analysis of the paleoepidemiology of Pediculus humanus infestation from 146 mummies from the Chiribaya culture 1000-1250 AD of Southern Peru. The study demonstrates the modern parasitological axiom that 10% of the population harbors 70% of the parasites holds true for ancient louse infestation. This is the first demonstration of the paleoepidemiology of prehistoric lice infestation.