“搅屎棍”告诉我们疾病是怎样在丝绸之路上传播的
2016/07/25
近日,来自剑桥大学的研究团队从悬泉置遗址出土“厕筹”中发现了几种寄生虫化石,这为丝绸之路上疾病传播提供了证据。

China Daily/Reuters/Newscom

丝绸之路是指起源于古代中国,连接亚洲、非洲和欧洲的古代商业贸易路线。虽然它促进了东西方经济、政治、文化交流,但同时也为传染病的传播创造了机会。近日,发表于Journal of Archaeological Science上的一项研究在距今已有2000年历史的人类粪便中发现了肠寄生虫化石,该发现首次为丝绸之路上的疾病传播提供了证据。

研究人员在 “搅屎棍”上残留的粪便中发现了化石。搅屎棍在古代被称为“厕筹”或“厕简”,是一种在大便后用来拭秽的竹条。这些厕筹于1992年在悬泉置遗址被发现,之后就被遗忘在博物馆中,直到现在,这些木棍和它们身上的“附着物”被运往剑桥大学。研究人员用显微镜检查了厕筹上的粪便,他们发现了四种不同寄生虫的卵,包括蛔虫、鞭虫、绦虫和中华肝吸虫。其中,中华肝吸虫可引起腹痛、腹泻和肝癌,需要在沼泽地区才能存活。人们通过食用被寄生虫感染的鱼而被传染。由于这些厕筹在塔克拉玛干沙漠东部被发现,那里气候干燥,不适宜寄生虫生存。因此,研究人员推测,这些寄生虫可能是从2000公里外广东省内的沼泽地带过来的。


图片:Reproduced from the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

这项发现首次利用考古学证据证实了丝绸之路上的商旅确实可以在如此广阔的距离上传播传染病。来自水源丰富地区的商旅们可能携带了寄生虫并将传染病传播到了丝绸之路上的其它地区。

备注:本文编译自Science网站,原标题:“Ancient poop shows how diseases may have spread along the Silk Road”。

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  • Early evidence for travel with infectious diseases along the Silk Road: Intestinal parasites from 2000 year-old personal hygiene sticks in a latrine at Xuanquanzhi Relay Station in China

    The Silk Road has often been blamed for the spread of infectious diseases in the past between East Asia, the Middle East and Europe. While such a hypothesis seems plausible, there is actually very little concrete evidence to prove that diseases were transmitted by early travellers moving along its various branches. The aim of this study is to look for ancient parasite eggs on personal hygiene sticks in a latrine at a large relay station on the Silk Road at Xuanquanzhi (111 BCE–CE 109), at the eastern margin of the Tarim Basin in north-western China. We isolated eggs of four species of parasitic intestinal worms: Chinese liver fluke (Clonorchis sinensis), Taenia sp. tapeworm (likely Taenia asiatica, Taenia solium or Taenia saginata), roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides) and whipworm (Trichuris trichiura). The Chinese liver fluke requires wet marshy areas to sustain its life cycle and could not have been endemic to this arid region. The presence of this species suggests that people from well-watered areas of eastern or southern China travelled with their parasites to this relay station along the Silk Road, either for trade or on government business. This appears to be the earliest archaeological evidence for travel with infectious diseases along the Silk Road.

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