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2015dec_logo2000 years ago on the coast of Tuscany, an eighteen year old girl died and her entombed body was carefully adorned with bronze and gold jewelry. She was one of the first known sufferers of coeliac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by ingestion of gluten. In spite of a healthy diet of fish, meat and vegetables—which researchers determined by analyzing isotopes in her skeleton—she was only four feet seven inches tall, and many of her bones were eroded at the tips. DNA analysis revealed she carried two copies of a gene commonly found in sufferers of coeliac, and her skeletal abnormalities indicated the kind of severe malnutrition that can accompany the condition. “She probably didn’t understand that she had this disease,” Gabriele Scorrano told Nature News magazine in 2014. Scorrano is the biological anthropologist at the University of Rome who published a study on the Italian woman’s remains.1,2

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