Ancient pathogens provide a window into health and well-being

Cecil M. Lewis, Mercy Y. Akinyi, Sharon N. DeWitte, Anne C. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This perspective draws on the record of ancient pathogen genomes and microbiomes illuminating patterns of infectious disease over the course of the Holocene in order to address the following question. How did major changes in living circumstances involving the transition to and intensification of farming alter pathogens and their distributions? Answers to this question via ancient DNA research provide a rapidly expanding picture of pathogen evolution and in concert with archaeological and historical data, give a temporal and behavioral context for heath in the past that is relevant for challenges facing the world today, including the rise of novel pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2209476119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • ancient DNA
  • disease
  • health
  • pathogens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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