When was celiac disease born?: the Italian case from the archeologic site of Cosa

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2010 Aug;44(7):502-3. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0b013e3181d345a5.


A case of a young woman died in Italy during the first century AD is presented. She had short height (140 cm), clinical history of anemia, and a decreased bone mass with evidence of osteoporosis and bone fragility. The archeologic artifacts from the tomb and with the quality of burial architecture suggest that the tomb was built for a rich person in an area with extensive culture of wheat. The wellness of the area is supported by the lack of other bodies found with signs of malnutrition. Clinical presentation and the possible continuous exposure to wheat seem to suggest a case of celiac disease. This case could be the first case of this condition since that one described by Areteus of Cappadocia in 250 BC and could be helpful to clarify the phylogenetic tree of celiac disease.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Archaeology*
  • Celiac Disease / history*
  • Celiac Disease / physiopathology
  • Female
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Malnutrition / etiology
  • Malnutrition / history
  • Phylogeny