6

Who was it that was responsible for the discovery that there are mummies found with cancer as the stated cause of death? And which Pharaoh or Pharaohs was it found in?

4

Mummification wasn't limited to pharaohs, state officials could get mummified as well (while obviously not being buried in pyramids). In fact, the overwhelming majority of mummies found aren't pharaohs and most of them remain unnamed. E.g. the title of one article discussing a cancer case is "Colon cancer in a Ptolemaic mummy from Dakhleh Oasis". While I don't have the article itself, I'm pretty certain that it doesn't mention who that mummy was - merely when he lived (thanks to carbon dating).

6

The ancient Egyptians themselves were aware of some forms of cancer. The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus, which dates to the Second Intermediate Period, describes the symptoms (and prognosis) for breast cancer.

A number of mummies have now been found to show the symptoms of cancer. An unnamed mummy of the Ptolemaic period (known today simply as M1) is currently the oldest known case of prostate cancer.

As far as I am aware, the oldest evidence so far for a suggested case of cancer in an Egyptian mummy comes from another unnamed individual, this time dated to the First Intermediate Period. This discovery was made within the last year, and the last I read about it, the preliminary diagnosis of cancer hadn't been confirmed.

Probably the most famous case of a mummy that has been found to exhibit the symptoms of cancer is that of Hatshepsut, which was re-discovered a decade ago. Interestingly, her mummy was finally identified on the basis of a single tooth! It is believed that she suffered from liver and bone cancer (there is also radiological evidence suggesting that she may have suffered from diabetes mellitus).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.