Skip to comments.Remains of 'End of the World' Epidemic Found in Ancient Egypt [3rd c AD]
Posted on 06/16/2014 2:52:58 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Working at the Funerary Complex of Harwa and Akhimenru in the west bank of the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor) in Egypt, the team of the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor (MAIL) found bodies covered with a thick layer of lime (historically used as a disinfectant). The researchers also found three kilns where the lime was produced, as well as a giant bonfire containing human remains, where many of the plague victims were incinerated.
Pottery remains found in the kilns allowed researchers to date the grisly operation to the third century A.D., a time when a series of epidemics now dubbed the "Plague of Cyprian" ravaged the Roman Empire, which included Egypt. Saint Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage (a city in Tunisia) who described the plague as signaling the end of the world.
Occurring between roughly A.D. 250-271, the plague "according to some sources killed more than 5,000 people a day in Rome alone," wrote Francesco Tiradritti, director of the MAIL...
While the world, of course, did not end, the plague weakened the Roman Empire. "It killed two Emperors, Hostilian in A.D. 251 and Claudius II Gothicus in A.D. 270," wrote Tiradritti. It is "a generally held opinion that the 'Plague of Cyprian' seriously weakened the Roman Empire, hastening its fall." ...
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
A bonfire where many of the victims of an ancient epidemic in the ancient city of Thebes in Egypt were ultimately incinerated. Credit: Photo by N. Cijan © Associazione Culturale per lo Studio dellEgitto e del Sudan ONLUS.
A lime kiln built to produce enough lime disinfectant to cover the human remains of victims from the epidemic in the ancient city of Thebes. Credit: Photo by N. Cijan © Associazione Culturale per lo Studio dellEgitto e del Sudan ONLUS.
You have the most fascinating articles!! Please add me to your ping list.
“You put the Lime in the Coconut!”
The survivors, hardened their immune system and 1,200 years later; depopulated the Americas.
You might already know this but... just in case, you know?
If you click on the word “blog” in SunkenCiv’s Gods Graves Glyphs graphic in his comment, it takes you to a collection of links to articles. Lots and loads of really interesting reading about history and such, all in one nice spot.
Didn’t know that — and Thanks. Am on my way now “back in time”.
Thanks bunster, welcome aboard.
That would be a particularly nasty little surprise for the tomb robbers, wouldn’t it? Interesting that they knew that lime would act as a disinfectant without knowing why. Some of the symptoms actually sound a little like cholera but what the heck do I know?
A nasty way to go....
“Cyprian left a gut-wrenching record of what the victims suffered before they died. “The bowels, relaxed into a constant flux, discharge the bodily strength [and] a fire originated in the marrow ferments into wounds of the fauces (an area of the mouth),” he wrote in Latin in a work called “De mortalitate.” The “intestines are shaken with a continual vomiting, [and] the eyes are on fire with the injected blood,” he wrote, adding that “in some cases the feet or some parts of the limbs are taken off by the contagion of diseased putrefaction ”
Very interesting. I wonder if it’s possible they can test the remains to conclude what a lot of researchers seem to believe, namely that it was a smallpox epidemic.
Some of the (much earlier) 18th dynasty pharaohs’ remains have been catscanned and they had smallpox lesions; another possibility mentioned here is measles, and of course, it could have been something that came and went and is now extinct.
Heh, that would fix ‘em, eh? The site had been used for formal burials for a long while before the epidemic, but after it became a disposal area for the victims, it was never again used for formal burials, and not rediscovered until tomb robbers found the site a century or so ago.
Sounds like some sort of ebola or a relative of it.
It doesn’t sound like smallpox to me, at all, nor does it sound like the more severe form of typhus. Sounds a little like Ebola, which remains mild for a few months, allowing the contagion to spread before lowering the boom.
Thanks Black Agnes, you beat me to it.
This plague coincided with the Crisis of the Third Century, a time the Roman Empire nearly collapsed. There were twenty-something claimants to the title of Emperor and the Empire split up. Diocletian ended the anarchy, but the Empire was never again as strong.