What diseases did the ancient Egyptians suffer from – they were worse than a cold?

During excavations in Egypt, archaeologists find thousands of mummies of different people. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians mummified bodies using salt, oil and bandages to preserve them over time. The inhabitants of Ancient Egypt believed in the afterlife and, in order for it to be eternal, the human body was protected by all means from decomposition. The Egyptian approach to mummification was very effective, thanks to which bodies several thousand years old were perfectly preserved to this day. In the course of their study, scientists reveal many interesting details about the pharaohs and ordinary inhabitants of Ancient Egypt. For example, they can already tell you what diseases they suffered from. Life in those days was clearly not easy, because we are not talking about a common cold.

What diseases did the ancient Egyptians suffer from - they were worse than a cold. The inhabitants of Ancient Egypt suffered from many terrible diseases. Photo.

The inhabitants of Ancient Egypt suffered from many terrible diseases

Contents

  • 1 Diseases of Ancient Egypt
  • 2 What did the ancient Egyptians suffer from?
    • 2.1 Malaria in Ancient Egypt
    • 2.2 Cat-borne disease
    • 2.3 Visceral leishmaniasis
    • 2.4 Infection with parasitic worms

Diseases of Ancient Egypt

The inhabitants of Ancient Egypt suffered from various diseases, and many of them are also found in modern people. For example, many men and women suffered from toothache – they ate bread and other foods that cause tooth decay, and the medicine to treat it was not well developed. Due to heavy physical labor, the ancient Egyptians often suffered from diseases of the bones and joints. Lack of food often led to problems related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. For example, because of this, people's skin deteriorated or they often experienced fatigue.

Diseases of Ancient Egypt. Dentistry was developed in Ancient Egypt, but it was very harsh. Photo.

Dentistry was developed in Ancient Egypt, but it was very harsh

At the same time, the ancient Egyptians also suffered from diseases characteristic only for them. In the modern world, such diseases are less common thanks to developed medicine and improved living conditions.

Read also:Scientists have recreated the faces of the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt more than 2000 years old

What the ancient Egyptians were sickScientists most often learn about what illnesses the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt suffered from by studying their mummified bodies. The authors of the scientific publication IFL Science recently spoke about this.

Malaria in Ancient Egypt

In Egypt there is a rocky gorge called the Valley of the Kings. Thousands of years ago, the tombs of the pharaohs were built there, inside which archaeologists actually found the mummified bodies of the rulers. They tested them for traces of the bacteria Plasmodium falciparum, which causes malaria in humans. This infectious disease is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes and causes symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, feeling tired and so on. If left untreated, malaria causes complications that can lead to death.

Malaria in Ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptian mummies have traces of malaria. Photo.

Ancient Egyptian mummies have traces of malaria

Of the 16 mummies tested for the malaria pathogen, four were positive. The world-famous pharaoh Tutankhamun was infected with two strains at once – it is believed that he was a very sick person, and this discovery is convincing evidence of this. But he did not die due to illness, because there is evidence that he died after falling from his chariot. According to Professor Piers Mitchell, they subsequently tested 221 mummies for malaria and the disease was found in 49 of them. It turns out that this disease was very common – perhaps it is the reason for the high mortality among children in Ancient Egypt.

This is not surprising, because in Africa malaria is still a very common disease that is transmitted through insect bites.

Article on the topic:Malaria may become even more dangerous – scientists have discovered parasite mutations

Disease transmitted from cats

Traces of toxoplasmosis were found in many mummies. In the brains of the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt there lived parasites that are transmitted from cats – it sounds scary, but many modern people also have them. In most cases they are not dangerous, but they still affect our lives and behavior. For example, Toxoplasma may be the reason why we love cats so much. It is possible that in Ancient Egypt cats were considered sacred animals precisely because of the infection of people with toxoplasmosis.

A disease transmitted from cats. Perhaps the Egyptians loved cats so much because they were infected with toxoplasmosis. Photo.

Perhaps the Egyptians loved cats so much because they were infected with toxoplasmosis

Also about toxoplasmosis: These parasites can control the minds of people and animals, be careful

Visceral leishmaniasis

Approximately 10% of the mummies showed signs of infection with parasites of the genus Leishmania. They are transmitted to humans through the bites of sand flies. The visceral leishmaniasis they cause affects internal organs such as the spleen, liver and bone marrow, causing fever as well as anemia. Without treatment, this disease can lead to death.

Visceral leishmaniasis. Insects have been and remain the main carriers of diseases. Photo.

Insects were and remain the main carriers of diseases

Read also:< /strong>Scientists find traps in ancient tombs – truth or myth?

Infection with parasitic worms

Traces of parasitic worms were also found in some mummies. Some of them destroyed the digestive organs, and there are also those that penetrated directly into muscle tissue. When infected with parasitic worms, people experience problems with the digestive system: the person may experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. Some people experience severe colic or discomfort in the abdominal area. Poor digestion, loss of appetite, and weight loss due to insufficient absorption of nutrients are also possible.

In ancient Egyptian times, these problems were clearly familiar to everyone. And all because many food products were contaminated and were also poorly fried.

Infection with parasitic worms. In ancient times, parasites were much more dangerous than they are today. Photo.

In ancient times, parasites were much more dangerous than today

Even though that people often suffered from serious illnesses, medicine in Ancient Egypt was well developed, but only by the standards of its time. The Egyptians had knowledge about the anatomy and functions of various parts of the body – they gained this knowledge in the process of mummification of dead people. To treat diseases, they used medicinal plants, and sometimes even resorted to surgical operations.

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Scientists know a surprising number of interesting facts about the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt. For example, in 2023, researchers revealed which dirty jokes were popular among Egyptians.


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