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The Holy Disease: Evidence for Leprosy and the Origins of the Hospital in Byzantine Thebes
September 27, 2018
Charlottesville, VA 22903 United States
Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
AIA Society: Charlottesville
Lecturer: Maria Liston
Excavations in the Sanctuary of Ismenion Apollo in Thebes also revealed a later cemetery of Early and Middle Byzantine burials. Analysis of these burials has generated new information about burials and society in the transition from late Antique to Christian Greece. Analysis of the skeletons showed that a remarkably high percentage of individuals suffered from significant, pathologies, including cancers, brucellosis, extensive trauma, and particularly leprosy (Hansen’s disease). The very high percentage of individuals with leprosy indicates they were associated with a nearby leprosarium or hospital. Hospitals serving the community as a whole were an early innovation of the Byzantine church in Greece, and this project provides a vivid glimpse of the patients whose lives ended there.