Disease and Medicine in Antiquity
21st century archaeology and science has uncovered a whole spectrum of information in concerns of the health of people in the ancient world. Nevertheless, the general consensus is the fact that the health conditions of those in the past were extremely poor relative to the health standards of the modern day.
Heart disease was and still is very common today. It is a part of the human condition, whether it is genetic or accrued via a combination of dietary and environmental factors. The CT scans of 22 Egyptian mummies have shown that cardiovascular trouble is not just a modern illness. Imaging specialists, archeologists and mummy experts examined the mummies from the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo looking for evidence of calcification (calcium build-up in the arteries or arterial routes) that could indicate cardiovascular disease. They discovered that nine of the mummies had deposits of calcification and further analysis determined that these deposits were either definite or otherwise a very likely indication of atherosclerosis (condition that leads to heart attacks and strokes). The diseases of which affect the people of modern day society are just as prevalent as it was in the ancient world thousands of years ago.
The consumption of water is a vital necessity in the life of today, however, in the ancient world it may have been very dangerous to do so as water was extremely contaminated and clean drinking water was very limited. It was believed that Alexander the Great was killed by a deadly bacterium found in the River Styx. The symptoms of which he suffered possess an almost identical correlation with the effects of a heavy toxin known scientifically as calicheamicin observed using 21st century technology. It is produced by bacteria capable of growing on limestone and the abundance of limestone in Greece was what ultimately led up to the death of the Macedonian king. Since the invention of water filtering devices, the quality of water has raised at least ten fold and thus the number of health related issues regarding the intake of water has been reduced quite dramatically. In the ancient world, people would essentially drink from the same place they bathed which, although may seem quite obvious, was and still is a very unhealthy practice.
The discovery of a gladiator graveyard in modern day Yorkshire or Rome has allowed for the analysis of the warriors who fought in the lion pits. Utilizing the latest of forensic technology, scientists are able to examine remains of at least 1800 years of age to determine bone density and muscle composition. It was discovered that these men were at the peak of their conditions during their time and would have rivaled current day sporting athletes. Stronger muscles in the right arm suggest that they were trained with the intent of swinging a heavy weapon but that is not to say that their rest of their body was weak. Dietary consisted of beef, pork and horsemeat combined with the strenuous activity experienced in the fighting arena led to gladiators being extremely well built and capable of optimum performance. Despite the different training conditions as well as the lack of nutritional requirements such as important vitamins and minerals, people of