Remains of Parasite from 7th Century BC in Jerusalem

Jay Kakade
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Jerusalem Drop Toilet
2,700 years old drop toilet made up of Stone. (Image Credit: Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Remains of intestinal parasite preserved in ancient faeces deposits are crucial things to be considered while studying human evolution of past infections.
2,700 years old parasite remains have been discovered in southern Jerusalem. It signifies even the ancient people once suffered from intestinal worms.

As humans started to settle rather than wanderers, It became mandatory for a place to defecate. Common people used waste pits but rich and elite class had little more privacy in this aspect.
According to archeological evidences, Most of the wealthy house had its own toilets. It was a symbol of luxury.

Given above is a stone toilet seat of Armon Hanatziv, discovered in 2019. Hole in center of stone slab states it was a simple drop toilet with a small whole to catch excretion. Researchers states, Toilet seat may have been covered with walls. Remains of pollen grains suggests roof may be open and plants were used as Air Freshener agents.

Though people of Jerusalem had presence of toilets but the parasite found states the poorer sanitary conditions at this time. Careful analysis of Toilet seats made up of Limestone, gives signs of presence of eggs of four types of intestinal worms roundworms, Tapeworm, Pinworms and whipworms. This Parasites are capable of producing thousands of eggs in human body once entered. The parasite spreads when the traces of stool containing worm or egg is by mistakenly ingested.


Intestinal Parasite Worm Eggs
Eggs of intestinal worms recovered from Ancient City of Jerusalem. (Image Credit: Eitan Kremer and Sasha Flit).

Roundworms and Whipworms

Presence of Roundworms and Whipworms are abundant on site. In severe cases the infections can lead to malnutrition and impaired growth of human body. It may have been difficult for Jerusalem to eradicate worms without medicines and Improper sanitary system and no hand washing facility. Abundant presence of Roundworms and Whipworms states, The human excretion may have not treated properly and disposed off in water or in farmlands, Making them way to get into us again.

Tapeworm and Pinworms

Tapeworm are often found in animals. Tapeworm may have made their way to enter human body via uncooked Pork and Meat. Meat and pork need to be cooled properly to get rid of Tapeworms.
As the people of Jerusalem have not develop the proper sanitization system too, Pinworms spread by faecal contamination of hand. Pinworms can float in air too.

Since the four types of eggs found on sites of Jerusalem were quite delicate and light. This may be a reason why they were hidden from archeologists.

Even today Tapeworms, Roundworms, Pinworms and Whipworms are one of the common infections, But with proper medication and sanitation facilities it can be treated well. But with little negligence in sanitation facilities, It can become endemic as it did in ancient Jerusalem.
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