Archaeology: Friends, Romans And DNA

Until Mussolini drained the mosquito-infested marshes south of Rome in the 1930s, malaria struck the city with such deadly regularity each summer that it was called the Roman fever. Last week two British scientists said they have found what may be the first genetic evidence that the killer disease was a blight on life in ancient Rome as well.

The evidence comes from the leg bone of a three-year-old child buried in a cemetery 70 miles north of Rome in the empire's waning days, circa A.D. 450. The remains were among some four dozen small skeletons--mostly of infants or stillbirths--excavated there...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!