Why Kissing Was Deadly in the Stone Age

Our ancestors, who lived in the Stone Age, had a hard time. Their life was a constant struggle for survival and search for food in harsh climatic conditions. The environment in which they lived was full of dangers. They were threatened by ferocious predators, poisoned food or tainted water, and, oddly enough, kisses. This conclusion was reached by employees of Stockholm University and the Swedish Museum of Natural History, who studied pathogenic microorganisms that circulated among people in the Stone Age in Scandinavia. The study authors analyzed the microbiome of almost 40 people who belonged to hunter-gatherer societies, as well as Neolithic farmers (the New Stone Age, which began in the seventh millennium BC and ended in the 18th century BC).

Why kisses in the Stone Age were deadly. Deadly diseases could be transmitted through a kiss in the Stone Age. Photo.

What bacteria threatened ancient people

The authors of the study identified more than 600 different types of microorganisms from the microbiome of ancient people. As it turned out, the most common bacteria at that time were Yersinia enterocolitica and Salmonella enterica. Both cause food poisoning from poorly cooked meat or contaminated food that is not properly washed.

Currently, in most cases, food poisoning is an extremely unpleasant but short-term illness. Nevertheless, 420 thousand people die from them every year in the world, as previously reported by WHO. In the Stone Age, when there were no antibiotics and modern medicine, food poisoning was even more dangerous and deadly.

What bacteria threatened ancient people. People in the Stone Age died from the bacterium that causes salmonella. Photo.

The remains of two people infected with salmonella were found in a burial site known as Bergsgraven, the study authors report. Most likely, this infection was the cause of their death. It must be said that Salmonella enterica and other dangerous bacterial pathogens that were discovered in the microbiome of ancient people are currently being treated with antibiotics.

What was the danger of kissing for ancient people

Another common bacterium found among samples taken from ancient humans was Neisseria meningitidis, which causes meningococcal disease. According to official statistics, in approximately 10% of the population this infection lives in the throat and nasal cavity, but does not cause harm to health. However, in some people it can cause a serious and dangerous illness that can even be fatal. A particularly high risk occurs with weakened immunity. For example, in the United States in 2022, an outbreak of meningococcal infection was recorded with a fatal outcome among people with non-traditional sexual orientation.

The infection spreads through close contact with people who are infected with the bacterium. There is a particularly high risk of infection when kissing. Therefore, in the Stone Age they obviously carried a mortal danger. Researchers report this in the journal Scientific Reports.

What was the danger of kissing for ancient people. In the Stone Age, people could become infected with meningococcal infection through a kiss. Photo.

In the Stone Age, people could become infected with meningococcal infection through kissing

However, meningococcal infection was not the only disease transmitted through kissing in ancient past. Another pathogen was the herpes virus, which is still extremely common today. According to official statistics, 3.7 billion people are infected with herpes, that is, almost half of the world's population.

But did ancient people really get infected through kissing or was it not common? Now it is impossible to accurately answer this question, since writing was just beginning to emerge in the Stone Age. However, it is known that thousands of years later, kissing was part of the intimate life of people in ancient Mesopotamia 4,500 years ago. Written sources speak about this. It is quite possible that kissing was common even earlier, that is, in the Stone Age.

What was the danger of kissing for ancient people. Ancient people suffered from plague, herpes and other diseases. Photo.

Ancient people suffered from plague, herpes and other diseases

In the Stone Age people suffered from plague

< p>During the study, scientists discovered that one of the ancient people was infected with the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which causes plague. From this it would be possible to assume that plague was the most serious danger for the ancient people living in Scandinavia. However, the results showed that food poisoning was much more common. Therefore, most likely, they carried a much greater danger, given that there were no drugs for them at that time.

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And finally, we offer another interesting topic concerning ancient people. By clicking on the link you can find out when the clothes first appeared. Scientists recently discovered this thanks to the DNA of lice. The evolution of these insects was closely related to the evolution of humans.