Date of this Version
Published in Advances in Parasitology, Vol. 90, Ch. 9, pp. 349–387.
Parasite finds in ancient material launched a new field of science: paleoparasitology. Ever since the pioneering studies, parasites were identified in archaeological and paleontological remains, some preserved for millions of years by fossilization. However, the paleoparasitological record consists mainly of parasites found specifically in human archaeological material, preserved in ancient occupation sites, from prehistory until closer to 2015. The results include some helminth intestinal parasites still commonly found in 2015, such as Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworms, besides others such as Amoebidae and Giardia intestinalis, as well as viruses, bacteria, fungi and arthropods. These parasites as a whole provide important data on health, diet, climate and living conditions among ancient populations. This chapter describes the principal findings and their importance for knowledge on the origin and dispersal of infectious diseases.