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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Ms Kori Lea Filipek, AA BA MA MSc

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Research Topic

Immunity and Isolation?: Assessing leprosy susceptibility, stigma, and care in Medieval England (11th-15th centuries AD), and its subsequent effects on contemporary society.


This research employs a two-fold novel isotopic approach to examine the individual life histories of young peoples suffering from leprosy in Medieval England. Residential origins (strontium and oxygen isotopes) and whole-life dietary profiles (carbon and nitrogen isotopes) spanning birth to death will be obtained at a sub-annual scale. The data will be used in conjunction with skeletal, historical, and clinical frameworks to examine the physiological and nutritional stresses that may have compromised leprosy immunity, the mobility histories of young leprosy sufferers, and their care and treatment. The findings from this research will help to better explore a fuller picture of the biological and social impacts of leprosy on past populations, and consequentially, present-day society at large. This line of research has not previously been investigated and is important in understanding and addressing present-day immunological susceptibility, social inequalities, and treatment of peoples suffering from leprosy.

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