Silk Road Transported Goods--and Disease
By Cynthia Graber on July 29, 2016


For thousands of years, what’s called the Silk Road was a group of land and sea trade routes(貿易路線) that connected the Far East with South Asia, Africa, the Middle East and southern Europe. Of course, when humans travel they carry their pathogens(病原體) with them. So scientists and historians have wondered if the Silk Road was a transmission route not just for goods, but for infectious disease. 

Now we have the first hard evidence(鐵證) of ancient Silk Road travelers spreading their infections. The find(發現物) comes from a 2,000-year-old latrine(茅坑) that had first been excavated(挖掘出來) in 1992. The report is in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

“So the site is a relay station(中繼站) on the Silk Road in northwest China. It's just to the eastern end of the Tarim Basin(塔里木盆地), which is a large arid area just to the east of the Taklamakan desert(塔克拉瑪乾漠), and not far from the Gobi Desert. So this is a dry part of China.”
Piers Mitchell, paleopathologist at the University of Cambridge, and one of the study’s authors, along with his student Ivy Yeh and colleagues in China.
In the latrine, archaeologists found used hygiene sticks(衛生籤) wrapped with cloth. These were used for what you think they were used for.
其次,它說明了這條路徑是可以用來傳播其它傳染病的路徑,例如黑死病(Bubonic plague)、痲瘋病(leprosy)和炭疽熱(anthrax),先前大家認為可能是沿著絲路散布到東亞和歐洲之間,因為現代遺傳學分析顯示兩造地點病株(strains)的相似度。


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