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A critical assessment on proposed outbreaks of plague and other epidemic diseases in Ancient Egypt


Habicht, Michael E; Eppenberger, Patrick E; Rühli, Frank (2021). A critical assessment on proposed outbreaks of plague and other epidemic diseases in Ancient Egypt. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 103:217-219.

Abstract

The current Covid-19 pandemic has brought back memories of past epidemics. Pharaonic Egypt has often been associated with epidemics and disasters through the ten plagues of the Bible. The study examines which epidemics and serious diseases can be effectively proven for Ancient Egypt in mummies and historical source texts. The biblical plagues cannot be proven because there is no agreement on the dating of the Exodus or the Exodus is a conglomeration of memories of different events. Other diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis have been proven for ancient Egypt, while polio and smallpox are still uncertain. From the time of the middle 18th dynasty there are indications of a bubonic disease, but its exact nature cannot be extracted from source texts or mummies, as they are too vague.

Abstract

The current Covid-19 pandemic has brought back memories of past epidemics. Pharaonic Egypt has often been associated with epidemics and disasters through the ten plagues of the Bible. The study examines which epidemics and serious diseases can be effectively proven for Ancient Egypt in mummies and historical source texts. The biblical plagues cannot be proven because there is no agreement on the dating of the Exodus or the Exodus is a conglomeration of memories of different events. Other diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis have been proven for ancient Egypt, while polio and smallpox are still uncertain. From the time of the middle 18th dynasty there are indications of a bubonic disease, but its exact nature cannot be extracted from source texts or mummies, as they are too vague.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Microbiology (medical)
Health Sciences > Infectious Diseases
Uncontrolled Keywords:Microbiology (medical), Infectious Diseases, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:1 February 2021
Deposited On:27 Nov 2020 09:05
Last Modified:23 Jun 2024 01:45
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:1201-9712
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2020.11.160
PubMed ID:33227516
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)