Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Interesting ancient breast-feeding proof


Scanning tech reveals mummy mysteries
Friday, August 5, 2005; Posted: 10:29 a.m. EDT (14:29 GMT)

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- Researchers have uncovered the mysteries surrounding a 2,000-year-old mummy without peeling back layers of bandages or even opening the gold-plated coffin.

Using a state-of-the-art CT scanner that rotated all the way around the tiny mummified girl, San Jose-based Silicon Graphics Inc. took 60,000 images and created 3-D models that allowed scientists to look at her resin-filled body cavities, her facial features, even her baby teeth.

Among their conclusions: The girl was between 4 and 6 years old and must have been breast-fed until shortly before her death.

Pretty cool they were able to conclude that this Eygptian girl was breast-fed for this long!

Someone had wondered how they were able to make this conclusion, so they wrote to the curator of the museum and asked. This was the response:

"Egyptian children were traditionally breastfed longer than
those in Western cultures. There was a very large spike in
mortality between the ages of three and five due to the
increased intake of potentially contaminated foods and
water. We did not do any studies of Sherit's diet (yet),
but instead based this on cultural information. It would
probably be better for this to have been worded,
"...was likely fairly recently weaned."

"Her overall bone density, however, does imply an
exemplary diet and nutrition. Since the ancient diet
was low in protein and calcium, this implies to me that
she was indeed breastfed until fairly close to her death,
before her bones had thinned as we see with the more
adult population."

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