A Skeleton 4,000 Years Old Bears Evidence of Leprosy

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The oldest known skeleton showing signs of leprosy has been found inIndia and may help solve the puzzle of where the disease originated.

The skeleton, about 4,000 years old, was found at the site of Balathal, near Udaipur in northwestern India. Historians have long considered the Indian subcontinent to be the source of the leprosy that was first reported in Europe in the fourth century B.C., shortly after the armies of Alexander the Great returned from India.

The skeleton is described in the journal PLoS One by Gwen Robbins, an anthropologist at Appalachian State University, and colleagues in India. The authors say the skull shows signs of erosion typical of leprosy.

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