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More Harm than Healing? Investigating the Iatrogenic Effects of Mercury Treatment on Acquired Syphilis in Post-medieval London.

More Harm than Healing? Investigating the Iatrogenic Effects of Mercury Treatment on Acquired... Abstract Mercury was commonly used to treat syphilis in post-medieval Europe, but debate persists about whether it ameliorated infection or exacerbated it. As there are no in vitro studies on mercury’s effectiveness, Hg levels were characterized using an established technique, portable X-Ray Florescence Spectrometry (pXRF) in syphilitic skeletons (N=22) from six post-medieval London cemeteries. Levels were assessed against proxies for syphilitic infection severity (lesion type, episodic involvement, extent of involvement), oral health indicators, and age at death. The findings are equivocal, likely obfuscated by background poor oral health and high mortality, and cannot elucidate whether mercury ‘killed or cured’. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Open Archaeology de Gruyter

More Harm than Healing? Investigating the Iatrogenic Effects of Mercury Treatment on Acquired Syphilis in Post-medieval London.

Open Archaeology , Volume (1) – May 16, 2016

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Publisher
de Gruyter
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by the
ISSN
2300-6560
eISSN
2300-6560
DOI
10.1515/opar-2016-0003
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract Mercury was commonly used to treat syphilis in post-medieval Europe, but debate persists about whether it ameliorated infection or exacerbated it. As there are no in vitro studies on mercury’s effectiveness, Hg levels were characterized using an established technique, portable X-Ray Florescence Spectrometry (pXRF) in syphilitic skeletons (N=22) from six post-medieval London cemeteries. Levels were assessed against proxies for syphilitic infection severity (lesion type, episodic involvement, extent of involvement), oral health indicators, and age at death. The findings are equivocal, likely obfuscated by background poor oral health and high mortality, and cannot elucidate whether mercury ‘killed or cured’.

Journal

Open Archaeologyde Gruyter

Published: May 16, 2016

References