Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack are often described as modern time affliction due to our increasingly sedentary lifestyles and high-fat diets, but scans of a 3,500-year-old Egyptian mummy have revealed it was a victim of heart disease.
The mummified head and lungs of Nebiri, an Egyptian chief of stables found in a tomb in Luxor in 1904, have been found to show classic signs of cardiovascular disease seen in more modern patients.
Subsequent scans of other mummies held at the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities have also shown they too displayed clear signs of this fatty build up, known as atherosclerosis.
However, as only the wealthiest and most powerful ancient Egyptians were mummified, it suggests their lifestyles were leading to the problem.
But the findings are also challenging many beliefs about heart disease and shows that rather than being a recent problem it is something that has affected humans for millennia.
Scientists at the University of Turin used 3D reconstructions of Nebiri’s skull fom his mummy and found he suffered from severe gum disease and had atherosclerosis in the right carotid artery.
Further scans on lung tissue found in the canopic jar in his tomb, which was partially broken due to looting, also showed it was filled with air sacs.
Dr Raffaella Bianucci, a medical anthropologist at the University of Turin who presented the findings at the International Congress of Egyptologists in Florence, said: ‘Nebiri was middle aged – 45 to 60 years old – when he died and he was affected by a severe periodontal disease with several abscesses.
There is evidence of calcification in the right internal carotid artery.
‘It can be confidently concluded that Nebiri died from an acute cardiac failure after having experienced a chronic cardiac insufficiency.’
Nebiri is thought to have been a member of the Egyptian elite who served as the Chief of the Stables during the reign of Thutmoses III, a pharaoh from the 18th Dynasty of ancient Egypt.
Read more:Daily Mail