From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Neolithic Remains Evidence Oldest Known Case of Osteopetrosis

German researchers have discovered the oldest known case of osteopetrosis or “stone bone” disease in the remains of a man from the Neolithic lacustrine settlement of Maliq in southeast Albania.

Osteopetrosis is a rare disorder which manifests through the hardening and solidifying of bones, making them more susceptible to fracture.

The study was conducted by palaeopathologist Julia Gresky of the German Archaeological Institute and colleagues.

The researchers describe the area as having an important role in the Neolithisation of the Balkan region as it was home to some of the first agricultural economies in the area. The bones they found were found to be from between 4620-4456 BCE making them over 6600 years old. This find is important for the archaeological community as it is 5000 years older than previously recorded cases.

Anthropological analysis has shown that the individual was most likely male, aged between 20 and 30 years and around 155 cm tall. His. remains were excavated in 1963.

Various investigations into the bones found that he suffered from autosomal dominant osteopetrosis meaning some of them had solidified.

The condition is present in various congenital skeletal disorders but also as a result of chemical poisoning from toxins such as lead, fluoride and beryllium. It can also indicate leukaemia.