Archaeologists have found the first ever evidence of the existence of human stomach parasites in a prehistoric Turkish village.
Microscopic eggs of the intestinal parasitic worm were found in feces and samples of preserved soil, dating back to 9,000 years.
Archaeologists believe parasitic diseases have increased with the density of hunter-gatherers, who lived near accumulated waste and feces, making the infection more likely. Experts say severe helminth infections can lead to anemia, diarrhea, and stunted growth, as well as low IQ in children.
Archaeologists studied ancient human waste, as well as soil samples from tombs in the ancient Turkish village of Çatalhöyük dating back to 7100-6150 BC.
Microscopic analysis showed that parasitic worm eggs were present in two preserved faecal samples, indicating that persons from the prehistoric village had been infected with this intestinal parasite.
Scientists believe that as fishing communities turned to agriculture some 10,000 years ago, there was a rise in the incidence of infectious diseases due to population growth and mobility.
This change in lifestyle has led to a similar change in the types of diseases that have affected the population, said Dr. Pierce Mitchell, lead author of the Department of Archeology at the University of Cambridge.
Because of the migration and the building of more permanent settlements, this has led to the accumulation of human waste, as well as the growth and density of the population.
The village of Çatalhöyük is famous for being well-preserved and ancient and is one of the largest and most densely populated villages in that period of time, so its study helps scientists to understand that process better.