Saturday, February 27, 2010

Priests ate like gods – and paid by dying young

Manchester University

The splendid banquets offered to ancient Egyptian gods may have been delicious and bountiful but they were also a killer, blocking the arteries of the high priests who made the offerings in the temples then took them home to their families.

For the first time a team of scientists at The University of Manchester have combined a new translation of hieroglyphic inscriptions on Egyptian temple walls that give details of the food offered daily to the gods with computed tomography of the mummified remains of priests to assess their atherosclerosis.

They have found that the priests would offer the gods sumptuous meals of beef, wild fowl, bread, fruit, vegetables, cake, wine and beer at the temple three times a day, then take them back home to their families. They also found their mummified remains showed high levels of atheromatous plaques and vascular calcification; that is, blocked arteries.

Times Online (Russell Jenkins)

Thanks to Glen Fricker for the above link.

The banquets offered by high priests to appease the gods of Ancient Egypt may have been welcomed as a perk of the job but they also increased their chances of cardiovascular disease and early death, research suggests.

The priests, a powerful bureaucracy under the pharaohs, would place vast plates of roast fowl and copious quantities of wine and beer before a god’s statue in a rite repeated three times each day. Then the food was divided up among the priesthood and taken home from the temple to be shared with their families.

Egyptologists and scientists at the University of Manchester have disclosed in The Lancet the cost of keeping the gods happy.

Also on the BBC website.

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