Bones of Leper Warrior Found in Medieval Cemetery





The bones of a soldier with leprosy who may have died in battle have been found in a medieval Italian cemetery, along with skeletons of men who survived blows to the head with battle-axes and maces.

Studying ancient leprosy, which is caused by a bacterial infection, may help scientists figure out how the infectious disease evolved.

The find also reveals the warlike ways of the semi-nomadic people who lived in the area between the sixth and eighth centuries, said study researcher Mauro Rubini, an anthropologist at Foggia University in Italy. The war wounds, which showed evidence of surgical intervention, provide a peek into the medical capabilities of medieval inhabitants of Italy.

"They knew well the art of war and also the art of treating war wounds," Rubini told LiveScience.

Buried horses and bashed-in skulls

The cemetery of Campochiaro is near the central Italian town of Campobasso. Between the years 500 and 700, when the cemetery was in use, Rubini said, the area was under the control of the Lombards, a Germanic people who allied with the Avars, an ethnically diverse group of Mongols, Bulgars and Turks. No signs of a stable settlement have been found near Campochiaro, Rubini said, so the cemetery was likely used by a military outpost of Lombards and Avars, guarding against invasion from the Byzantine people to the south....



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