Hardening of the arteries is commonly associated with modern lifestyle choices, but newly-published research indicates that it affected people across the ancient world.
Full-body CT scans of 137 adult mummies from ancient Egypt, Peru, southwest America (Ancestral Puebloans of the Archaic and Basketmaker II cultures), and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska (Unangan people), revealed that over a third showed signs of atherosclerosis, or calcification in the walls of their arteries.
Of the individuals studied, probable or definite calcification was observed in 38% of ancient Egyptians, 25% of ancient Peruvians, 40% of Ancestral Puebloans, and 60% of Unangan hunter-gatherers.
‘The fact that we found similar levels of atherosclerosis in all of the different cultures we studied, all of whom had very different lifestyles and diets, suggests that atherosclerosismay have been far more common in the ancient world than previously thought,’ said Prof. Randall Thompson, co-author of the study, which was recently published in The Lancet.
All images copyright: The Lancet
Watch out for more information in CWA 58 – out at the end of March.
Carly studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at St John’s College, Cambridge, before becoming a journalist. Quickly realising she preferred covering history and archaeology stories above all others, she joined Time Team as a researcher, later working for Horrible Histories and helping create an ancient Egyptian-themed computer game.