Columbus Exonerated: Did Not Discover Syphilis

Columbus Not Bringing Syphillis To the Queen

Explorer, conqueror, and, to some, the carrier of syphilis back to Europe from the New World, Columbus’ reputation seemed set in stone for eternity. Now some nifty forensic archeology may have exonerated the Admiral of the Ocean Sea from responsibility for the scourge that was first documented in Europe two years after his return from the West Indies. Researchers digging in an old church cemetery in East London say they’ve discovered bodies from the 13th and 14th Centuries which show tell-tale signs of syphilis like rough patches on the limbs and skulls of the corpses. Bodies interred with the disease two centuries before Columbus’ voyage would seem like exciting proof to Anglo scientists. However, the Brits managed to contain themselves: “We’re confident that Christopher Columbus is simply not a feature of the emergence and timing of the disease in Europe,” Brian Connell of the Museum of London said.

Now all that we know for sure is that the Europeans gifted diseases like smallpox and measles to the native populations but got precious little in return, that little island at the mouth of the Hudson River notwithstanding. Vikings are now the chief suspects for bringing the epidemic.

Source: AOLNews

Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

35 thoughts on “Columbus Exonerated: Did Not Discover Syphilis”

  1. Syphilis is caused by the treponema pallidum sprichete. Even if it is considered a sexually transmitted disease, it isn’t always acquired through sexual contact. There are rare cases where the infectious organism is passed on through open wounds or lesions as point of entry. Syphilis may also be passed on from mother to fetus during pregnancy and childbirth. It is a sad fact, though, that 25 percent of fetuses born of syphilitic mothers end up in stillbirths, while the remaining 75 percent develop congenital syphilis which may aggravate into another medical complication if left untreated. Also, people with syphilitic sores who remain sexually active are at higher risk of acquiring HIV or AIDS.-

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  2. FFLeo:

    Thanks, my friend. I’m like the cartoon at the end of the first movie — just killing time until the second feature starts.

    I was torn on the title to this one. I almost called it “The Myth of Syphilis,” alluding to my favorite Camus work, but just couldn’t do it.

  3. Mespo,

    You make it natural to follow your lead and then spin off comments from the other good, witty folks here. This is an entertaining, intelligent group with whom I am privileged to occupy the same forum.

    I roundly agree with Professor Turley that the “3-MED” group is a rousing success; however, we all anticipate his swift return, while we are pleased that he gets a respite from his daily blawg reporting.

    Thanks to each one of the “MED’s” 3 scribes for assisting him.

  4. My nurse sister-in-law once explained to me, when the AIDS epidemic was new and not understood yet, that dense populations can produce a new disease, through mutation, that is viable and easily spread. If true, it could have started in any country and finding such a willing host, spread rapidly and still be successful to this day.

    Ebola, on the other hand, is so virulent it kills off any host too soon to spread very far. If it ever mutates to a less virulent state, it could become the new Black Plague.

  5. HI everyone. I love the postings! I expect to return to find the keys changed and the blog renamed the (

    I have been enjoying Paris (as I get ready for the conference). We arrived at 5 am and even without sleep (we decided to tough it out and get on Paris time without a nap), a series of espressos proved the trick in keeping us going. The Waldorf Madeleine allowed us to check in at 6 am, which was a huge help.

    Yesterday we walked all over Paris from the Louvre to Sacre Couer. We get French friends and had a wonderful lunch as a classic Paris restaurant (Le Grand Colbert). Best escargot I have ever had. Wonderful wines, of course. I am of course looking diligently for blogging material, but M.E.D. will have to carry the ball.

    Thanks again to our guest bloggers. This experiment has already been an amazing success from what I can see.

  6. The Europeans actually got quite a bit from the New World, including: silver and gold, tomatoes, corn, squash, potatoes, slaves, land, timber, hammocks, manioc, etc.
    They also got a lot of territory to explore, conquer and settle.
    As a matter of fact, it was silver and gold from the New World that financed Spanish and Portuguese exploration of North and South America.
    There is a controversy over whether Columbus brought syphilis to America, or found it when he arrived.

  7. Former Federal LEO
    1, November 1, 2010 at 1:21 am
    Hi Blouise,

    While some of my posts might suggest that I might be under the influence of some drug, I have never smoked any weed or uncultivated plant stronger than grapevine–not even corn silks.


    I was referring to “smokin’ hot” … as in “on fire”, “fired up”, “burning rubber”, “too hot to handle”, “all ablaze”, “hot Mama”, Va Va Voom!, or saxy sax (sexy saxophone) 8) with shades!

  8. Hi Blouise,

    While some of my posts might suggest that I might be under the influence of some drug, I have never smoked any weed or uncultivated plant stronger than grapevine–not even corn silks.

  9. James M.
    1, November 1, 2010 at 12:57 am
    *wince* There really was no pun intended.


    Too bad ’cause it was a great one! 🙂

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