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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Ancient Egypt: Study indicates even the governing class was malnourished

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    The story has the arresting title:

    Governors of Ancient Egypt suffered from malnutrition dying before they were 30 years old
    I guess that's more than is warranted, since we're actually talking about a very long period. But this is what they're concluding for the bodies from this site in any event.

    Prof. Botella explains, "although the cultural level of the age was extraordinary, the anthropological analysis of the human remains reveals the population in general and the governors the highest social class lived in conditions in which their health was very precarious, on the edge of survival".

    However, one should add that they study's authors are not putting it down to anything beloved of the Paleo movement, but to dirty water:

    According to the UGR anthropologists, life expectancy barely reached 30, "since they suffered from many problems of malnutrition and severe gastrointestinal disorders, due to drinking the polluted waters of the Nile".
    Governors of Ancient Egypt suffered from malnutrition dying before they were 30 years old

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    It's also true that the bread they ate was ground with sandstone grinding stones, which added sand to their bread, destroying the enamel of their teeth. It is common to find mummies that clearly died with active abscesses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eKatherine View Post
    It's also true that the bread they ate was ground with sandstone grinding stones, which added sand to their bread, destroying the enamel of their teeth. It is common to find mummies that clearly died with active abscesses.
    Sure, I've seen previous studies that focus on how bad their teeth were. Whether that's down to millstone grit in the bread, though ...

    Weston Price found Eskimo who ate large quantities of fish dried in windrows that were heavily gritted. Their teeth were worn right down, but quite sound:

    Man at bottom left:

    Fig.9.jpg

    Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: Chapter 5

    I think the problems with Ancient Egyptian teeth were more likely down to a carbohydrate-rich diet. Ramiel Nagel is quite persuasive on an old, and rather forgotten theory, that seems to show that blood-sugar spikes can disrupt the balance of minerals in the blood -- which then causes minerals to be "pulled" from the teeth to re-establish the balance, thus making them more susceptible to bacterial attack.

    Cure Tooth Decay: Remineralize Cavities and Repair Your Teeth Naturally with Good Food [Second Edition]: Ramiel Nagel, D.D.S. Timothy Gallagher: 9780982021323: Amazon.com: Books

    I guess it's forgotten because, in our culture, the one thing you don't do -- as Gary has found -- is talk down carbohydrate (whether you've solid evidence for doing so or not). I think the theory may very well be true, however.


    An interesting sentence from the Eurekalert report:

    ... the bones of the children had no marks on them, "which demonstrates that they died from some serious infectious disease".
    Maybe that implicates the water, as they suggest. Or some other source of infection. OTOH, if they had been optimally fed, would they have been better able to fight off infection?

    I think that last is an interesting question. One almost hesitates to raise it when trained people examining the bones seem not to have thought of it. Who am I? ...

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    I'm amazed Egyptian society managed to stick around as long as it did. If the mummies that have been examined are an accurate sample of the population, everyone in Egypt must have been miserable. Maybe that's why they drank so much beer.

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    ... the bones of the children had no marks on them, "which demonstrates that they died from some serious infectious disease".
    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis View Post

    Maybe that implicates the water, as they suggest. Or some other source of infection. OTOH, if they had been optimally fed, would they have been better able to fight off infection?

    I think that last is an interesting question. One almost hesitates to raise it when trained people examining the bones seem not to have thought of it. Who am I? ...
    Lots of "serious infectious diseases" of the sort people in early Neolithic cultures died from did leave marks on the bones. Tuberculosis, yaws...

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    Smothering them doesn't affect the bones...I bet that there were lots and lots of murderous concubines in hyper-competition in egyptian upper classes.
    "Ah, those endless forests, and their horror-haunted gloom! For what eternities have I wandered through them, a timid, hunted creature, starting at the least sound, frightened of my own shadow, keyed-up, ever alert and vigilant, ready on the instant to dash away in mad flight for my life. For I was the prey of all manner of fierce life that dwelt in the forest, and it was in ecstasies of fear that I fled before the hunting monsters."

    Jack london, "Before Adam"

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    Ramses III was murdered by some of the women of his harem to get one of their children on the throne, so that kind of thing was definitely going on.

    I'm not sure why they assumed that no marks on the bones = infectious disease. Marks only form when a period of adequate nutrition is interrupted by a sudden lack of it during growth. If a child is poorly nourished from the beginning, there won't be any marks when they ultimately die of malnutrition.

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