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...

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