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Recent Analysis Of The Skeletal Remains Of An Ancient Woman Recovered Along The Nile River Revealed That She Suffered From Rheumatoid Arthritis, One Of The Earliest Known Cases In The World

AlexAnton - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

For more than 3,000 years, ancient Egypt flourished along the winding Nile River in northeast Africa. Eventually, the civilization fell to Greek, then Roman, and finally, Muslim control.

However, they left behind various treasures that point to what life was like during its peak. Centuries later, Egypt has now become the site of some of the world’s greatest historical finds.

For instance, in 2018, archaeologists uncovered the ancient skeletal remains of a young Nubian woman along the banks of the Nile River in southern Egypt. She was around five feet tall and lived sometime between 1750 and 1550 B.C.

At the time of her death, she was 25 to 30 years old. She was buried with a heap of grave goods, such as Nubian and Egyptian pottery fragments, a mother-of-pearl necklace, and a leather garment containing beadwork made out of stone and ostrich eggshells.

Recent analyses have revealed that she suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, and it is one of the earliest known cases of its kind in the world. The skeleton was remarkably well-preserved, and most of the bones, including the hands and feet, were still remaining, which allowed researchers to perform a thorough examination.

After studying the bones, they concluded that the woman likely suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects the joints. It occurs when the immune system attacks its own body tissues, resulting in pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. Today, the condition is diagnosed through bone imaging and blood tests.

According to Mindy Pitre, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of anthropology at St. Lawrence University in New York, the surfaces of the joints and the places where the bones meet weren’t damaged, helping to rule out other types of arthritis.

The “erosive lesions with smoothed out holes” in the woman’s bones were what pointed to signs of rheumatoid arthritis.

“I’m used to seeing osteoarthritis—it’s one of the most common joint conditions that we see archaeologically,” Pitre said. “It looks like bone on bone where you get this smooth look that resembles ivory.

AlexAnton – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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