Tags: ancient | egypt | epidemic | plague

Ancient Egypt Epidemic Signaled 'End of World,' Archaeologists Say

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 09:37 AM

New evidence of an ancient epidemic so deadly it was thought to harken the end of humanity was recently unearthed in Egypt by archeologists.

LiveScience.com reported Monday that the team of archeologists, the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor, uncovered a body-disposal operation used during what is commonly called the "Plague of Cyprian," which ravaged the Roman empire from 250-271 A.D.

"According to some sources [the plague] killed more than 5,000 people a day in Rome alone," Francesco Tiradritti, the team's leader, wrote in the latest issue of Egyptian Archaeology magazine, published by the Egypt Exploration Society.

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In their latest find, Tiradritti's team uncovered a trove of bodies covered in a thick layer of lime, which was used as a disinfectant in ancient times. They also found a bonfire site used to cremate a large number of bodies, and three kilns where the lime was produced.

The site was not always a body-disposal factory, he reported, adding that it was originally built in the seventh century B.C. as a monument for a grand steward named Harwa. It later became a burial site, and was turned into the crematorium and lime-driven body-disposal site when the plague arrived. After the plague, it was abandoned altogether.

"[T]he 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," said Tiradritti.

Saint Cyprian, a bishop of Carthage (now located in modern-day Tunisia), was alive during the plague, and wrote about it in a Latin work called "De mortalitate." He wrote that the plague — which he said produced continual vomiting, diarrhea, and limb rot — surely signaled the end of the world.

According to Fox News, Cyprian wrote that, "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."

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New evidence of an ancient epidemic so deadly it was thought to harken the end of humanity was recently unearthed in Egypt by archeologists.
ancient, egypt, epidemic, plague
359
2014-37-18
Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 09:37 AM
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