2200 year old mummy found to have osteoporosis and ate diet high in carbs
A 2,200-year-old mummy stored in Israel for decades proves to be of a sedentary ancient Egyptian who led a sedentary lifestyle and seemed to love starchy foods.
The body of the mummy Iret Khor-Ero was a present from the Jesuits in Alexandria to the Jesuit Pontifical Biblical Institute in 1928. Not much was known about him except that he was originally from Akhmim which is 480 kilometres from Cairo. He was nicknamed “Alex” after he had been donated.
Alex is thought to have been around 40 years old when he died in the second century BC. Through CT scans and radiocarbon dating of his body, scientists were able to determine not only his age but the actual effects of low activity during his lifetime. Damage done to the body by aging and lack of exercise has been proven time and time again. The linens on the body also helped to determine the age of the body through radiocarbon dating.
CT scans showed tooth decay,osteoporosis due to diet and lack of sun exposure and symptoms of cardiovascular disease. Conclusive tests could be attributed to the embalming procedures that helped retain blood vessels, bones and much of the body’s skin.
Alex was not an isolated case. In a study in 2011 of Ancient Egyptian mummies almost half of the 44 men and women preserved had clogged arteries. Mummies from around the world showed similar symptoms of cardiovascular disease. 137 preserved men and women were noted to have lived a sedentary lifestyle.
Experts from the University of Zurich studied 3,000 ancient Egyptian mummies to find in 2013 that almost one in five have ‘worn teeth, periodontal diseases, abscesses and cavities’ according to a study published in the Journal of Comparative Human Biology.
The prevalence of tooth decay may have been caused by the ancient Egyptians’ diet of bread and honey, as well as other sweet baked treats.
The study reviewed CT scans taken of mummies and said that out of 85, there were 5 cases of degenerative disorders, including osteoarthritis and four cases of atherosclerosis – the hardening of the arteries.
Infectious diseases were also detected, Discovery News reported, including tuberculosis and gangrene of the teeth and gums. Seven mummies also revealed signs of malaria, and 10 had tumours.
“Osteoporosis is a disease that is characteristic of the 20th century, when people don’t work so hard. Galit Bennett, who curated the mummy exhibit. “We were very surprised that there were people who didn’t do physical work and that it affected their bodies like this man here.”
Khor-Ero had been thought to be a young man, around 17, but the latest analyses indicate that he was in his 40s when he died.
Sometimes during embalming, internal organs removed for the process were returned to the body. In Khor-Ero’s case, there is something in his abdomen, but it is not clear what. It is clear that he was about 1.67 meters in height – about 5″6.
Authors of both these studies reported the same conclusions,
“Although commonly assumed to be a modern disease, the presence of atherosclerosis in pre-modern human beings raises the possibility of more basic predisposition to the disease.”