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New Scans Reveal Pharaohs Suffered From Degenerative Spinal Condition

Findings Contradict Previous Diagnosis

By: Avi Bhunjun  |@AviBhunjun
 on 21st October 2014 @ 11.44am
ramesses ii © Wikimedia
Ramesses II

Talk about stress. It must have been a hard life ruling over an ancient kingdom with a debilitating spinal condition. Previous x-rays showed that the rulers may have appeared to suffer from spinal arthritis. However new findings paint a different story.

New scans on the royal Egyptian mummies actually ruled out that they suffered from a inflammatory spinal condition called Ankylosing spondylitis but instead suffered from another degenerative spinal condition.

According to IFL Science this condition “causes inflammation in the spinal joints and leads to pain, stiffness in the back, and sometimes the bony fusion of the spine,” and “it was also thought to have plagued members of ancient royal families based on x-rays of three pharaohs—Amenhotep II, Ramesses II and his son Merenptah—taken in the 1980s.”

The American College of Rheumatology states the condition belongs to a group of inflammatory conditions that causes arthritis and affects up to 2.4 million Americans. Sahar Saleem from the Kasr Al Ainy Faculty of Medicine conducted the research in Cairo, Egypt by using a series of CT scans on 13 royal Egyptian mummies from 1492 to 1153 BC to look for any traces of arthritis. However the initial prognosis of ankylosing spondylitis was rebuffed because IFL Science said,

“They didn’t find evidence of joint erosion in the lower back and pelvis area (the sacroiliac joints), fusion of these sacroiliac joints, or fusion of small joints between vertebrae in the spine (called facet joints). Instead, they found distinctive patterns of ossification along the vertebral bodies that indicate diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH)”

scenic eygption pyramids © Twitter
Scenic Eygption Pyramids

The difference between both these conditions is that diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis is a degenerative condition where the ligaments along the spinal vertebrae harden and cause firmness in the upper back.

The findings were found on the ancient Pharaohs Amenhotep III, Ramesses II, his son Merenptah, and Ramesses III spanning across three different centuries. It captures an insight into how they lived their lives. The condition is also an interesting way to measure their ages because this type of arthritis affects people ages 60 and above. This indicates their longevity in the ancient times.

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