Evidence for rare diseases in ancient Egyptian mummies and skeletons

Lösch, Sandra; Hower-Tillmann, Estelle (February 2019). Evidence for rare diseases in ancient Egyptian mummies and skeletons (Unpublished). In: Workshop of Ancient and Rare Diseases. Berlin. 27.2.-1.3.2019.

For more than 20 years the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy and the Department of Anthropology in Bern, Switzerland have been involved in the study of mummies and skeletal findings at various archaeological sites in Egypt. The excavations that are headed and coordinated by the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo included the important necropolis of Abydos,Thebes-West, Dashur and Buto and ranging from the Pre and Early Dynastic Period to the New and Middle Kingdom until the Roman and Coptic times. Up to now, data have been collected from approximately 1900 mummies and skeletons, which are covering about 4000 years of the ancient Egyptian history. The aim of this ongoing project is to perform a comparative analysis of the various sites and time periods in order to obtain profound insights into the health and living conditions of the old Egyptian populations. The study includes a detailed analysis of pathological conditions, such as dental diseases, trauma, degenerative disease, signs of malnutrition and infectious diseases. Moreover, rare pathological conditions were detected in a few skeletal and mummified remains from different sites and time periods. These comprised the presence of cranial dysostosis, achondroplasia and cerebral palsy. In addition, in a radiological study of the mummy of king Tutankhamun an aseptic bone necrosis (Kohler disease) was observed in his left foot. The different findings of rare diseases in the ancient Egypt material will be presented and the implications regarding diagnosis and the social and cultural impact will be discussed.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Lösch, Sandra


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
900 History > 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
900 History > 960 History of Africa




Sandra Lösch

Date Deposited:

27 Aug 2019 14:55

Last Modified:

27 Aug 2019 14:55



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