Typhoid May Have Caused Fall of Athens, Study Finds

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An ancient medical mystery—the cause of a plague that wracked Athens from 426 to 430 B.C. and eventually led to the city's fall—has been solved by DNA analysis, researchers say.

The ancient Athenians died from typhoid fever, according to a new study.

Scientists from the University of Athens drew this conclusion after studying dental pulp extracted from the teeth of three people found in a mass grave in Athens' Kerameikos cemetery.

The mass grave was first discovered in 1994 and was dated to about 430 B.C., the time of the plague.

At least 150 bodies had been thrown into the pit, the corpses piled in five layers with no soil between them.

"It was evident that they were buried irregularly, hastily, and without the death rituals of the time, almost in a state of panic," said Manolis Papagrigorakis, a professor at the University of Athens' School of Dentistry who lead the study.

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