SCIENCE

This Ancient Mummy May Be The Oldest-Known Victim Of Heart Failure

A 3,500-year-old mummy is changing the way scientists think about heart disease.

An Egyptian dignitary who died 3,500 years ago is making headlines today, as a new analysis of his mummified body suggests that he died of chronic heart failure.

If scientists are right, the mummy of Nebiri -- which was discovered in 1904 in the Egyptian city of Luxor and is now housed at the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy -- represents the earliest victim of heart failure ever found.

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The Nebiri mummy that may represent the oldest known victim of chronic heart failure.
The Nebiri mummy that may represent the oldest known victim of chronic heart failure.

For the analysis, the researchers took a close look at both Nebiri's skull (by creating a 3D reconstruction) and lung tissue remains.

"The head is almost completely unwrapped, but in a good state of preservation," Dr. Raffaella Bianucci, a medical anthropologist at the University of Turin, told Discovery News. "Since the canopic jar inscribed for Hapy, the guardian of the lungs, is partially broken, we were allowed direct access for sampling."

The researchers found evidence of gum disease, arterial plaque, and the presence of so-called "heart failure" cells in the lungs.

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<span>Raffaella Bianucci presenting her study on&nbsp;</span><span>the mummy of Nebiri&nbsp;</span><span>at the Egyptology co
Raffaella Bianucci presenting her study on the mummy of Nebiri at the Egyptology congress.
The canopic jar that was used in the study.
The canopic jar that was used in the study.

Nebiri isn't the first mummy that scientists have found with signs of heart disease. The Guardian reported that the mummy of King Merneptah, a pharaoh who lived 3,200 years ago, also suffered from atherosclerosis.

The researchers presented their new findings at the 11th International Congress of Egyptologists in Florence, Italy, on August 26, 2015.

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