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  1. Pregnancy complications are poorly represented in the archeological record, despite their importance in contemporary and ancient societies. While we excavated a Byzantine cemetery in Troy, we discovered calcified abscesses among a woman’s remains. Scanning electron microscopy of the tissue revealed ‘ghost cells’, resulting from dystrophic calcification, which preserved ancient maternal, fetal and bacterial DNA of a severe infection, likely chorioamnionitis.Gardnerella vaginalisandStaphylococcus saprophyticusdominated the abscesses. Phylogenomic analyses of ancient, historical, and contemporary data showed thatG. vaginalisTroy fell within contemporary genetic diversity, whereasS. saprophyticusTroy belongs to a lineage that does not appear to be commonly associated with human disease today. We speculatemore » that the ecology ofS. saprophyticusinfection may have differed in the ancient world as a result of close contacts between humans and domesticated animals. Our results highlight the complex and dynamic interactions with our microbial milieu that underlie severe maternal infections.« less

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