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Parasitology as an Interpretive Tool in Archaeology

Karl J. Reinhard
American Antiquity
Vol. 57, No. 2 (Apr., 1992), pp. 231-245
DOI: 10.2307/280729
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/280729
Page Count: 15
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Parasitology as an Interpretive Tool in Archaeology
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Abstract

Parasitological studies of archaeological sites can be used to interpret past behavior and living conditions. During the 1980s problem-oriented research into prehistoric- and historical-period parasitism developed and resulted in the field of archaeoparasitology. Archaeoparasitology attempts to integrate parasite data into archaeological theory and interpretation. Within the last decade, four major archaeoparasitological laboratories emerged. They developed interpretive frameworks that apply parasitological data to a remarkable variety of prehistoric behaviors. Parasite remains can be used to reconstruct aspects of diet, health, and other behaviors such as transhumance and trade. Finally, analysis of the distribution of parasite remains can be used to interpret aspects of site-formation processes.

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