Ancient Egyptian priests ‘killed by fat’

This 2014 video is called Priests and Scribes in Ancient Egypt.

From the BBC:

Ancient Egyptian priests ‘killed by rich ritual food’

Egyptian mummies showed many priests had blocked arteries

Lavish banquets offered to ancient Egyptian gods blocked the arteries of priests who took the food home to their families, say UK researchers.

An analysis of the foods listed in hieroglyphic inscriptions on temple walls showed the meals offered to the gods were laden with saturated fat.

And scans of priests’ mummified remains showed many had blocked arteries.

The research, published in The Lancet, shows atherosclerosis is not just a modern disease, say the authors.

Ritual offerings

Professor Rosalie David, an egyptologist from the University of Manchester, said: “There couldn’t be a more evocative message: live like a god and you will pay with your health.”
Egyptian goose hieroglyph
The translations of inscriptions on the walls of Egyptian temples showed that priests would offer the gods meals of beef, goose, bread, fruit, vegetables, cake, wine and beer three times a day.

After the ritual offering, they would take home the food for themselves and their families.

The geese of Meidum, ancient Egyptian painting of white-fronted, red-breasted, and bean geese

This is the ancient Egyptian Meidum Geese painting.

A dietary analysis showed a very high fat content in the food offered. For example, goose meat is 63% fat, with 20% of it saturated.

The bread was richer than modern bread, often being enriched with fat, milk, and eggs.

The researchers say salt intake was also likely to have been high because it was often used as a preservative.

The food offered to the gods was much richer than the more frugal, mainly vegetarian, diet that most Egyptians ate.

Clear evidence

The authors surveyed evidence from over 60 mummies which had been analysed over the past 30 years using X-rays or rehydrated tissue samples.

They found clear evidence of blocked arteries and arterial damage among priests and their families.

Among 16 mummies whose hearts and arteries could be identified by CT scans, nine had evidence of hardened arteries.

“There was a marked incidence of blocked arteries among priests and their families,” said Professor David.

“We have been able to show how temple inscriptions, which recorded daily rituals, can be combined with investigation of mummies to provide additional evidence about the priests and their diet.

“Inscriptions on coffins associated with individual mummies provide the owner’s names and titles and this information can be used to associate the diseases discovered in these mummies with specific social groups, in this case the priests and their families.”

See also here.

Environment, Insects and the Archaeology Of Egypt: here.

Pharaoh Userkare’s pyramid: here.

Aug. 19, 2013 — Researchers have shown that ancient Egyptian iron beads held at the UCL Petrie Museum were hammered from pieces of meteorites, rather than iron ore. The objects, which trace their origins to outer space, also predate the emergence of iron smelting by two millennia: here.

7 thoughts on “Ancient Egyptian priests ‘killed by fat’

  1. Concern over cinema snacks

    Feb 27 2010

    Film fans should be given more information about how many calories they consume during a trip to the cinema, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has said.

    The nutrition watchdog is concerned about the portion sizes of cinema snacks which are often high in fat, sugar or salt.

    “We recognise that trips to the cinema are occasional treats and food eaten there only represents a small amount of the nation’s calories. However, the food on offer at cinemas is food that is often high in fat, sugar and salt,” an FSA spokesman said.

    “It is also served in pretty large portions and people don’t have a choice to choose something smaller, for example the smallest soft drink on offer can be as big as a pint and pop corn tends to come in large buckets.

    “The FSA thinks it’s a good idea that people should have more choice. If they want to order a smaller pop corn box or soft drink then it should be available.”

    FSA chief executive Tim Smith told The Times cinema food was “a concern”.

    “There is a myth that popcorn is calorie-free but that is not the case,” he said.

    Mr Smith said there seemed to be increasingly large snacks on sale, adding: “Who would ever have thought of the idea of a family needing a wheelbarrow to go into a cinema?”

    The Times said a large sweet popcorn from a central London cinema weighed 375g and was likely to contain around 1,800 calories.

    The FSA is already working with food businesses to introduce calorie information for customers and said some restaurant businesses, including Wimpy and Pret a Manger, have already committed to doing that long term.


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