Archaeoparasitological studies on fossilized feces obtained from Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910 CE) mummies have provided invaluable data on the patterns of parasitic infection in pre-modern Korean societies. In our recent radiological investigation of a 17th century Joseon mummy discovered in Cheongdo (South Korea), we located a liver mass just below the diaphragm. Anatomical dissection confirmed the presence of a mass of unknown etiology. A subsequent parasitological examination of a sample of the mass revealed a large number of ancient Paragonimus sp. eggs, making the current report the first archaeoparasitological case of liver abscess caused by ectopic paragonimiasis.
Parasitological examination of samples from tombs of the Korean Joseon Dynasty (1392–1910) could be helpful to researchers in understanding parasitic infection prevalence in pre-industrial Korean society. Whereas most of our previous parasitological studies revealed the presence of ancient parasite eggs in coprolites of Korean mummies, a sample from a man living in late 17th century Korea proved to be relatively unique in possessing what appeared to be several species of parasite larvae. The larvae identified included Strongyloides stercoralis and Trichostrongylus spp., along with eggs of Ascaris lumbricoides , Trichuris trichiura , and Paragonimus westermani . Since ancient parasite larvae retain enough morphology to make proper species identification possible, even after long burial times, the examination of parasite larvae within ancient samples will be conducted more carefully in our future work.