Diseases and therapies in ancient Egypt: what can mummies and other human remains tell us?


Published: December 31, 2005
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Mummies and skeletal material of ancient Egypt constitute valuable sources for paleopathological studies when using classical methods or modern investigation tools such as imaging techniques or molecular biology. From these approaches, we improve our knowledge about the conditions and the duration of life, eating habits, or mummification techniques. A compilation of the main diseases found during these periods can be made. One must underline the similarity in health problems with present times concerning, for instance, tuberculosis, parasitic diseases (schistosomiasis, malaria, dracunculosis), osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, skin diseases, or dental problems. Conversely, no case of syphilis was found. The real frequency of malignant tumours remains a controversial topic. Considering therapeutic armamentarium, findings such as amputations, prosthetic replacements or more sophisticated surgery must be combined with data provided by medical papyri or carvings. This approach contributes to a better understanding of the evolution of disease and the history of medicine.


Bauduer, F. (2005). Diseases and therapies in ancient Egypt: what can mummies and other human remains tell us?. Journal of Biological Research - Bollettino Della Società Italiana Di Biologia Sperimentale, 80(1). https://doi.org/10.4081/jbr.2005.10097

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