Paleopathology in osseous remains from the 16th century. A survey of rheumatic diseases

J Rheumatol. 1998 Apr;25(4):776-82.


Objective: To describe the rheumatic conditions found in skeletal remains of Amerindian ancestry disinterred from a 16th century Mexican cemetery.

Methods: A physical anthropologist and 2 rheumatologists surveyed the recovered skeletal remains.

Results: We examined the skeletal remains of 443 subjects. We found 19 cases of Pott's disease, 17 of osteoarthrosis in various anatomical locations, 2 spondyloarthropathies, probably ankylosing spondylitis or diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis, one probable septic arthritis in the stemoclavicular joint, and 2 compression fractures of the spine. We found no cases of gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

Conclusion: This is the first report on the presence of rheumatic conditions in colonial Mexico. Studying the remains of these populations can provide useful information about the origin and evolution of different rheumatic conditions.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Arthritis, Infectious / history
  • Bone and Bones / pathology*
  • Female
  • History, 16th Century
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / history*
  • Male
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoarthritis / epidemiology
  • Osteoarthritis / history
  • Paleopathology
  • Rheumatic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rheumatic Diseases / history*
  • Spinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Spinal Diseases / history
  • Tuberculosis, Spinal / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Spinal / history