Remains of ’End of the World’ epidemic found in Ancient Egypt
2014-06-16 0:00

From: SoTT

Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of an epidemic in Egypt so terrible that one ancient writer believed the world was coming to an end.

Working at the Funerary Complex of Harwa and Akhimenru in the west bank of the ancient city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor) in Egypt, the team of the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor (MAIL) found bodies covered with a thick layer of lime (historically used as a disinfectant). The researchers also found three kilns where the lime was produced, as well as a giant bonfire containing human remains, where many of the plague victims were incinerated.

Pottery remains found in the kilns allowed researchers to date the grisly operation to the third century A.D., a time when a series of epidemics now dubbed the "Plague of Cyprian" ravaged the Roman Empire, which included Egypt. Saint Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage (a city in Tunisia) who described the plague as signaling the end of the world.

Occurring between roughly A.D. 250-271, the plague "according to some sources killed more than 5,000 people a day in Rome alone," wrote Francesco Tiradritti, director of the MAIL, in the latest issue of Egyptian Archaeology, a magazine published by the Egypt Exploration Society.

Tiradritti’s team uncovered the remains of this body-disposal operation between 1997 and 2012. The monument his team is excavating was originally built in the seventh century B.C. for a grand steward named Harwa. After Harwa’s death, the Egyptians continuously used the monument for burial (Akhimenru was a successor who built his own tomb there). However, after its use for body disposal during the plague, the monument was abandoned and never used again.

The use of the complex "for the disposal of infected corpses gave the monument a lasting bad reputation and doomed it to centuries of oblivion until tomb robbers entered the complex in the early 19th century," Tiradritti writes.

End of the world

Cyprian left a gut-wrenching record of what the victims suffered before they died. "The bowels, relaxed into a constant flux, discharge the bodily strength [and] a fire originated in the marrow ferments into wounds of the fauces (an area of the mouth)," he wrote in Latin in a work called "De mortalitate." The "intestines are shaken with a continual vomiting, [and] the eyes are on fire with the injected blood," he wrote, adding that "in some cases the feet or some parts of the limbs are taken off by the contagion of diseased putrefaction ..."

Cyprian believed that the world was coming to an end.

"The kingdom of God, beloved brethren, is beginning to be at hand; the reward of life, and the rejoicing of eternal salvation, and the perpetual gladness and possession lately lost of paradise, are now coming, with the passing away of the world ..." (translation by Philip Schaff, from the book "Ante-Nicene Fathers", volume 5, 1885).


Read the full article at:

Related Articles
New study reveals ancient Egyptians were mostly vegetarian
Unwrapping Ancient Egypt: Challenging Old Assumptions
Stone carving depicts Roman Emperor Claudius dressed as Egyptian Pharaoh
Ancient Egyptian Soldier’s Letter Home Deciphered
Ebola epidemic confirmed in Guinea, death toll quickly rising
Virus Epidemic Within Our Genome Revealed
Ancient Plague’s DNA Revived From A 1,500-Year-Old Tooth
Black Death: Did the plague help finish off the Romans?

Latest News from our Front Page

Feminist blogger uses her vaginal yeast to make sourdough bread
2015-12-01 22:52
It's a tale that might ensure you never look the same way at a humble loaf again. When a feminist blogger found herself suffering from a vaginal yeast infection, she made the unusual decision to use the unwanted bodily fluid as an ingredient for making bread. Zoe Stavri, who writes under the title Another Angry Woman, has documented the details of her ...
Apple could be working on virtual reality projector, patents show
2015-12-01 22:40
The company has been granted a patent for an ‘adaptive projector’, which can project images onto surfaces Apple could be working on a new augmented reality projector, which would allow it to make computers without even adding a screen. The company has been granted a patent for an “adaptive” projector, reports Patently Apple. The patents seem to refer to a tool ...
83-year-old Romanian Jewess crowned "Miss Holocaust Survivor" in Israel
2015-12-01 22:23
83-year-old Romanian born Rita Berkowitz wins the one-of-a-kind charity beauty pageant Romania-born woman who immigrated to Israel won the third annual Miss Holocaust Survivors Beauty Pageant in Haifa. Rita Berkowitz, 83, was chosen among the 16 European natives who participated in the contest on Tuesday. She came to Israel in 1951. Hairdressers and makeup artists primped and pampered the contestants before they took ...
North Vancouver schools get first gender-neutral washroom
2015-12-01 21:52
In a first for North Vancouver schools, Seycove secondary has opened a gender-neutral washroom. The move is a step in the right direction and recognition that not every student feels welcome in the binary male- or female-designated washrooms, according to Brian Wilson, president of Seycove’s Queer Straight Alliance Club, which lobbied the school administration for the washroom. High school is already a ...
Newly-Completed Fukushima 'Containment' Wall Already 'Slightly Leaning'
2015-12-01 21:15
Just weeks after re-starting the building of a giant ice-wall to contain groundwater leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant, TEPCO has been forced to admit that a 780-meter protective wall built alongside the crippled power station (completed only last month and designed to prevent contaminated groundwater from seeping into the sea)  is already "slightly leaning." While this sounds a lot ...
More News »