Earliest Evidence Of Breast Cancer Has Been Discovered In 4,200-Year-Old Egyptian Skeleton

When it comes to archaeology, the general perception among the public is that it involves the discovery and study of basic historic artifacts which would eventually be displayed in museums. These artifacts are usually perceived to be common items of the era, building debris, and even skeletons.

However, advances in archaeology have opened doors that were never pursued before. The Inquisitr reported on such, including using said techniques to verify the discovery of an ancient cheese that is 2,000 years older than Jesus Christ. Though not in the same league as a cheese, beer and wine from a sunken ship that is 170-years-old was discovered too. Apparently, archaeologists were okay with the booze being taste tested. Not so much for the cheese though.

Nevertheless, archaeologists may have discovered another phenomenal find that could have only been found through the advancements in archaeology: a skeleton with evidence of breast cancer. Not only that, the discovered case of breast cancer may be the earliest identified case ever found.

According to Reuters, a team of archaeologists from a Spanish university discovered the evidence pointing to breast cancer in a 4,200-year-old skeleton of an adult woman. The call for branding it the earliest case of breast cancer was made by Egyptian authorities after Mamdouh el-Damaty, the minister of the Egypt Antiquities Ministry, observed the bones of the woman who lived at the end of the 6th Pharaonic Dynasty.

“The study of her remains shows the typical destructive damage provoked by the extension of a breast cancer as a metastasis.”

It should be noted that today, breast cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death. However, it is virtually absent in archaeological records compared to other diseases. This unique detail enforced the belief that the rise in cancer is in association with modern lifestyle as well as people living longer.

Tomb of Sarenput II
This is just a part of a wall of the tomb of Sarenput II. It is located in the necropolis, Qubbet el-Hawa.

Ancient Origins also reported on the find, mostly providing archaeological details. First and foremost, the prospects of finding skeletons having details of cancer around the Nile River is mostly in result to another discovery last year. Apparently, British researchers found and studied a 3,000-year-old skeleton showing signs of metastatic cancer in a tomb in modern Sudan. The discovery suggests that cancer was around the Nile Valley in ancient times. As a result, when the 4,200-year-old skeleton was found in the necropolis of Qubbet el-Hawa, researchers made sure to study it for signs of cancer, leading to the monumental discovery.

Other details include the fact the skeleton’s excavation site is not where it originated. An anthropological team from the University of Jaen has identified the remains as belonging to an aristocrat woman from Elephantine, the most southern town in Egypt. This means the skeleton had to somehow be transported to reach its destination. At this moment, it is unknown how the skeleton ended up in Qubbet el-Hawa, but taking into account it is a necropolis, it probably ended up there as part of a ceremonial transportation of remains for burial by natives.

[Featured Image via Egypt Antiquities Ministry, Post Image via Wikimedia Commons]