Cultivating disease

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The development of farming by our Neolithic ancestors had a negative impact on the health of modern humans, archaeologists say. Researchers from the Universities of Adelaide and Aberdeen, and the Sanger Institute in Cambridge, extracted DNA from calcified dental plaque on ancient teeth from 34 northern European prehistoric skeletons. Their analysis, published in Nature Review, revealed that the shift in diet associated with the rise of agriculture affected the development of oral bacteria in humans, allowing those that guard against disease to be dominated by caries-causing strains.

This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 58. Click here to subscribe

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