Thursday, April 05, 2012

Atherosclerosis and diet in ancient Egypt

The Lancet  

Thanks to Tony Cagle's Archaeoblog for this link.
The Lancet, Volume 375, Issue 9716, Pages 718 - 719, 27 February 2010
Rosalie David, Amie Kershaw and Anthony Heagerty
Atherosclerosis is often considered a modern disease, yet it is evident in the remains of many ancient Egyptians. The mummification process was usually done for the more affluent members of society, and a rich legacy of archaeological and literary evidence, as well as the pathology preserved in both skeletal and mummified remains, has enabled disease studies to be undertaken. These studies not only provide information about this early society, but also establish a historical context for diseases found in modern populations.
Atherosclerosis and vascular calcification are usually regarded as circulatory phenotypes associated with advanced modern lifestyles. However, although rare, such conditions have been identified in human remains from some early societies. Examples occur in an elite Chinese burial (c. 700 BCE), and among Canadian Eskimos (c. 400 CE to c. 1520 CE) whose diet was almost entirely meat. They have also been reported since the early 20th century in the mummified remains of the rulers and elite of ancient Egypt. Marc Ruffer described arterial lesions in hundreds of Egyptian mummies in 1911 and Graham Shattock noted atheromatous deposits in the aorta of King Menephtah in 1909; these findings were later confirmed by John Harris and Edward Wente's radiological survey in 1980, which additionally reported vascular calcification in the mummies of Ramesses II, Ramesses III, Sethos I, Ramesses V, and Ramesses VI..

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