The predictive power of palaeopathology

Francesco Maria Galassi, Michael E. Habicht, Elena Varotto

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As palaeopathologists, we could not agree more with AbdulRahman A Saied and colleagues' statement that “[a]nalysis of historical specimens will deepen our understanding of virus evolution, enhancing our ability to predict and interpret the impact of various genetic changes.”1 We also value their reference to the potential antiquity of coronaviruses, as their evolutionary history probably extends further back in time than previously estimated. However, caution should be implemented when attributing the power of such strong predictions to the field of palaeopathology, since the histories of certain infectious diseases are far from being completely elucidated; this proves even truer for ancient Egypt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e391
Number of pages1
JournalThe Lancet Microbe
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • palaeopathology
  • Mummy studies
  • Egyptology


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