Skeleton showing the effects of leprosy, Netherlands, 1350-1500

1350-1500 in Netherlands

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Skull and lower leg bones, mature human, showing effects of leprosy, from a medieval Danish cemetary, reputedly c.
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Lower leg bones (tibia & Fibila), mature human, showing effects of leprosy, from a medieval Danish cemetary, reputedly c. 1350

The tibia and fibula of this adult human leg show the devastating effects of leprosy on the bones of the body. This erosion and damage, caused by the decay of protective fatty tissue, does not occur in all cases.

The leg is reputedly from an adult buried in a Danish leprosy cemetery attached to a leper hospital. Those with leprosy were social outcasts due to fear of catching the disfiguring disease and it appears the same happened in death. However, similar skeletal remains have been found in graveyards not attached to leper hospitals.

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Anatomy & Pathology
Object Number:
Wellcome Trust
Loan: Wellcome Trust

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