Toilet parasites date back to 7th-century Jerusalem, show influence on region’s elite

New one Study shows that specimens collected from the bottom of a toilet in Jerusalem 2,700 years ago show that parasites widely affected the region, especially the elite.

The study by Daphna Langgut, head of the Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Ancient Environments at Tel Aviv University, to determine the species of intestinal parasites that existed in the 7th century BC as part of understanding the history of regional health and sanitation conditions was in its entirety. was written.

Daphna Langgut in the Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Ancient Environments at Tel Aviv University wrote a study on species of intestinal parasites present in the 7th century BC.
Sasha Flit

Langgut was part of an excavation at Armon Hantziv in southern Jerusalem. A total of 15 sediment samples were collected from a cesspit, or location where liquid waste or sewage is normally disposed of.

The site contained a stone toilet installation located in the adjacent garden “for a monumental structure with extraordinary architectural elements” – leading Langgut to believe that high-status individuals occupied that particular region of Israel Was.

“It was kind of a status symbol,” explained Langgut newsweek In connection with the rarity of a toilet that existed at that time, in an area surrounded by spectacular mountain views highlighted by a temple Mt.

Jerusalem Excavation
A stone toilet seat was found during a 2019 excavation at Armon Hantziv in southern Jerusalem.
yakov billigo

After collecting sediment samples down the toilet and in the cesspit, she went back to her lab to observe them using a light microscope.

Four intestinal parasite eggs were eventually detected, identified and measured: Trichuris Trichiura (whip worm), Taenia sp. (beef/pork tapeworms), Intestinal parasites (roundworm), and antobius vermicularis (pinworms).

Limp
Intestinal parasite eggs recovered from sediment collected under stone toilet seats at Armon Huntziev. Each bar is equal to 25 µm and is magnified 400 times.
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This is the earliest appearance of roundworms and pinworms in the ancient Israel parasite record, notes the study.

“I was very, very surprised,” she said. “Initially I thought I was seeing plant remains like pollen. I was surprised to see the parasites.”

Langgut said such research is in the realm of “more than meets the eye,” meaning that excavated specimens show only so much. Using a microscope, she said she and others can use model techniques to study the sample in a way that was not possible a decade ago—let alone hundreds or thousands of years ago.

This includes a better understanding of health, diet, medicinal plants in people’s systems, and possibly knowing whether such people were harmed.

“They had no medicine, no treatment,” she said. “It was very infectious diseases, these parasites.”

The parasites discovered were dead, Langgut said, adding that he saw unfertilized worm eggs.

It is not clear how many people were affected, although she clarified that such parasites do not usually cause death. Rather, they usually cause abdominal pain or some similar damage.

Again, there was no cure or treatment, so results may vary. Langgut said the parasites may have a more harmful effect on children because of their still-developing nervous systems.

There was also no fresh water in the underground installation, leading him to believe that citizens during that time were generally unaware of the importance of cleanliness, including washing hands or knowing how to properly cook meat.

“The study demonstrates the potential of archaeological investigation to expand our knowledge of the origin and history of regional transitions,” Langgut said in the study. “Furthermore, parasitic evidence enabled us to determine the purpose of cubicle perforated stone artifacts (stone toilet seats rather than cultural objects as currently debated).”

He added that future excavations of ancient Israel should include archaeological studies of rare toilet installations to prevent the loss of information on the regional history of diseases and to better understand their archaeological context.

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