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Science & Environment

2,200-Year-Old Mummy Shows Unhealthy Ancient Egyptians

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

What's the hieroglyphic symbol for couch potato? A 2,200-year-old Egyptian mummy went on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem this week. His name was Iret-hor-irou, the protective Eye of Horus. He was an Egyptian priest, 5 foot 6, who was probably between 30 and 40 years of age when he died, according to tests run on the linen in which he's been wrapped since the second century B.C. The priest seems to have suffered from a series of ailments, which we think of as afflicting people who may have a little too much idle time on their hands - osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and lack of vitamins from the sun.

Osteoporosis is a disease that's characteristic of the 20th century when people don't work so hard. Galit Bennett, who curated the mummy exhibit, told the Associated Press, we are glued to screens. We were very surprised that there were people who didn't do physical work and that it affected their bodies like this man here. The mummy also reportedly has tooth decay. Were there ancient Egyptian Twinkies? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.