Earliest case of scurvy found in 5,800 yr-old child skeleton in Egypt
Earliest case of scurvy found in 5,800 yr-old child skeleton in Egypt

CAIRO: Excavation work at archaeological site in Egypt’s Aswan have revealed a 5,800 year-old skeletal remains of a one-year-old child strongly believed to  be the world’s earliest case of scurvy, the antiquities ministry announced in a statement Friday.

The remains were found at Aswan’s pre-historic settlement and cemeteries at Nag el-Qarmila, Kubbaniya. The find was excavated by an Italian-Egyptian mission working in the Aswan Kom Ombo Archaeological Project (AKAP.)

The new discovery suggests the diet of people living at the time was poor, despite living in an area that was at the centre of the agricultural revolution, according to the statement.

Head of the team, Dr Maria Carmela Gatto of University of Leicester said “the child was buried within a small rural village located at the southern periphery of the region. The child appears to have been buried with its knees drawn up towards its chest.”

Analysis of the bones, however, revealed they were unusually porous, something often seen in victims of scurvy, according to Gatto.

Mindy Pitre, a physical anthropologist from University of Alberta, said that the main reason for disease is not yet revealed, but that “unhealthy food and cultural behavior could lead to scurvy.”

It is a disease more commonly associated with sailors who spent months at sea during, Pitre said, adding that there was also some evidence the child had suffered bleeding as a result of the disease.

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