Posts Tagged ‘history’

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a tomb of a prominent goldsmith dedicated to the god Amun and the mummies of a woman and her two children, the antiquities ministry said on Saturday.

The finds were made in the Draa Abul Naga necropolis on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor, famed for its temples and burial grounds.

The tomb dated back to Egypt’s 18th dynasty New Kingdom era – around 15th century BC, said Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al Anani on Saturday.

“The work did not finish yet and we’re continuing and working to find more objects and more tombs,” he said.

The site includes a courtyard and niche where a statue of the goldsmith Amenemhat and his wife and one of his sons, as well as two burial shafts, the ministry said in a statement.

The tomb of “Amun’s Goldsmith, Amenemhat” contained a sculpture carved into a recess of him seated beside his wife, the ministry said.

A portrait of their son was painted between them.

A burial shaft in the tomb led to a chamber where the archaeologists discovered mummies, funerary statues and masks, the ministry said.

Another shaft led to a chamber where the team found the mummies of a woman and her two children.

The woman appears to have died at the age of 50 and tests showed she had suffered from a bacterial bone disease, the ministry quoted bone specialist Sherine Ahmed Shawqi as saying.

The team also discovered 150 small funerary statues carved in wood, clay and limestone.

https://www.trtworld.com/mea/egypt-announces-discovery-of-3-500-year-old-pharaonic-tomb-10361

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A woman wearing men’s clothing and claiming to talk directly with God wouldn’t seem to be committing capital crimes.

But in the 15th century, she certainly would have been.

These offenses play a part in the legendary history of Joan of Arc, the teenage heroine who led giant armies to fight against the English during the Hundred Years’ War. She was eventually captured, tried for her crimes, and burned at the stake at the age of 19.

But in modern times, would she be convicted of her crimes on the basis of an insanity plea?

According to a jury of about 200 physicians, forensic psychologists, lawyers, judges, and medical students, the future saint would have been acquitted.

Apparently, having visions of other saints is a sign of mental instability, not heresy.

“She was not mentally responsible for what she had done, as in she was delusional,” Dr. Philip A. Mackowiak, a Carolyn Frenkil and Selvin Passen History of Medicine Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Mackowiak founded the Historical Clinicopathological Conference, held this year at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Davidge Hall, the oldest medical facility in the country continuously used for medical education. While similar groups meet to discuss current cases at the university, every year they choose one historic case to dig into.

In 24 years, they’ve covered cases including Beethoven (syphilis), Florence Nightingale (bipolar disorder with psychotic features), Christopher Columbus (HLA-B27-related reactive arthritis), and Charles Darwin (cyclic vomiting syndrome).

At this year’s conference, held last week, they dug into a case memorialized in tempera paint and currently hanging in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

What Disease Shaped ‘Christina’s World?’

In Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 painting “Christina’s World,” a woman lies in an open field looking toward a house in the distance.

The woman depicted in the painting, Anna Christina Olson, was a friend of Wyeth. She suffered from a mysterious disorder that slowly degraded her ability to walk, so she’d make her way around the grounds by pulling herself along with her hands.

She was later confined to a wheelchair and died in 1968 at the age of 74.

What exactly was the cause of her symptoms?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), according to Mayo Clinic neurologist Marc Patterson.

CMT, named after the doctors who discovered it, is a group of inherited disorders that affect the peripheral nerves, causing symptoms that include loss of muscle and fine motor skills. It remains incurable and one of the most common inherited neurological disorders.

To reach his diagnosis, Patterson reviewed not only the painting but also what was available of Olson’s medical records from what little biographical information her nieces wrote about her.

“This was a fascinating case,” Patterson said in a press release. “This painting has long been a favorite of mine, and the question of Christina’s ailment was an intriguing medical mystery. I think her case best fits the profile of this disease.”

Piecing Together Historical Health Records

Besides Patterson and the rest of the conference’s expertise, the symptoms were checked using a super computer located at Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility, which confirmed the diagnosis.

It also affirmed the previous year’s case, Oliver Cromwell, the English monarch who died in 1658. His undoing was a combination of malaria and typhoid fever caused by a salmonella infection.

Mackowiak takes pride in selecting the case and keeping it under an air of mystery before each year’s conference. The cases are often given vague titles, yet he says most people figure it out before they convene.

Beethoven was “The Sound That Failed,” and Alexander the Great was “Death of a Deity.”

Who was “The Greatest Tragedy in the History of Music?”

No, not Prince, David Bowie, or even John Lennon. It was Mozart, who died of acute rheumatic fever.

Another part of the mystery is that these historical House M.D.s rarely have full autopsy reports or even a single medical record for their subjects, so there is quite a bit of detective work. That only adds to the fun.

In the case of Booker T. Washington, researchers found his great-grandson, who is a physician and helped find Washington’s great-granddaughter. She gave them access to his medical records.

While syphilis was first suspected as a potential cause of death, a blood test done at Rockefeller Hospital in New York City tested negative.

In 2006, the clinicopathological conference determined the slave-turned-advisor to the president died of nephrosclerosis and hypertensive cardiomyopathy. In other words, the man worked his heart to death.

Other cases had to be decided on what was written in the legends.

In the case of Pericles, dubbed “the first citizen of Athens,” researchers went off of descriptions of what happened during the plague that also claimed his sons and first wife.

“To say we provide shocking new information would be an exaggeration,” Mackowiak said.

Mackowiak provides more information on these cases in his two books, “Post-Mortem: Solving History’s Great Medical Mysteries” and “Diagnosing Giants: Solving the Medical Mysteries of Thirteen Patients Who Changed the World.”

For him, every case, every conference meeting highlights how although doctors believe what they’re doing right now is correct, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren will look back and see how wrong they were.

“There is no perfect knowledge,” Mackowiak said. “You do the best with what you have.”

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/medical-researchers-solve-historic-deaths#6

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by Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News, Johannesburg

Scientists have discovered a new human-like species in a burial chamber deep in a cave system in South Africa. The discovery of 15 partial skeletons is the largest single discovery of its type in Africa.

The researchers claim that the discovery will change ideas about our human ancestors.

The studies which have been published in the journal Elife also indicate that these individuals were capable of ritualistic behaviour.

The species, which has been named naledi, has been classified in the grouping, or genus, Homo, to which modern humans belong.

The researchers who made the find have not been able to find out how long ago these creatures lived – but the scientist who led the team, Prof Lee Berger, told BBC News that he believed they could be among the first of our kind (genus Homo) and could have lived in Africa up to three million years ago.

Like all those working in the field, he is at pains to avoid the term “missing link”. Prof Berger says naledi could be thought of as a “bridge” between more primitive bipedal primates and humans.

“We’d gone in with the idea of recovering one fossil. That turned into multiple fossils. That turned into the discovery of multiple skeletons and multiple individuals.

“And so by the end of that remarkable 21-day experience, we had discovered the largest assemblage of fossil human relatives ever discovered in the history of the continent of Africa. That was an extraordinary experience.”

Prof Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum said naledi was “a very important discovery”.

“What we are seeing is more and more species of creatures that suggests that nature was experimenting with how to evolve humans, thus giving rise to several different types of human-like creatures originating in parallel in different parts of Africa. Only one line eventually survived to give rise to us,” he told BBC News.

I went to see the bones which are kept in a secure room at Witwatersrand University. The door to the room looks like one that would seal a bank vault. As Prof Berger turned the large lever on the door, he told me that our knowledge of very early humans is based on partial skeletons and the occasional skull.

he haul of 15 partial skeletons includes both males and females of varying ages – from infants to elderly. The discovery is unprecedented in Africa and will shed more light on how the first humans evolved.

“We are going to know everything about this species,” Prof Berger told me as we walked over to the remains of H. naledi.

“We are going to know when its children were weaned, when they were born, how they developed, the speed at which they developed, the difference between males and females at every developmental stage from infancy, to childhood to teens to how they aged and how they died.”

I was astonished to see how well preserved the bones were. The skull, teeth and feet looked as if they belonged to a human child – even though the skeleton was that of an elderly female.
Its hand looked human-like too, up to its fingers which curl around a bit like those of an ape.

Homo naledi is unlike any primitive human found in Africa. It has a tiny brain – about the size of a gorilla’s and a primitive pelvis and shoulders. But it is put into the same genus as humans because of the more progressive shape of its skull, relatively small teeth, characteristic long legs and modern-looking feet.

“I saw something I thought I would never see in my career,” Prof Berger told me.

“It was a moment that 25 years as a paleoanthropologist had not prepared me for.”

One of the most intriguing questions raised by the find is how the remains got there.

I visited the site of the find, the Rising Star cave, an hour’s drive from the university in an area known as the Cradle of Humankind. The cave leads to a narrow underground tunnel through which some of Prof Berger’s team crawled in an expedition funded by the National Geographic Society.

Small women were chosen because the tunnel was so narrow. They crawled through darkness lit only by their head torches on a precarious 20 minute-long journey to find a chamber containing hundreds of bones.

Among them was Marina Elliott. She showed me the narrow entrance to the cave and then described how she felt when she first saw the chamber.

“The first time I went to the excavation site I likened it to the feeling that Howard Carter must have had when he opened Tutankhamen’s tomb – that you are in a very confined space and then it opens up and all of a sudden all you can see are all these wonderful things – it was incredible,” she said.

Ms Elliott and her colleagues believe that they have found a burial chamber. The Homo naledi people appear to have carried individuals deep into the cave system and deposited them in the chamber – possibly over generations.

If that is correct, it suggests naledi was capable of ritual behaviour and possibly symbolic thought – something that until now had only been associated with much later humans within the last 200,000 years.

Prof Berger said: “We are going to have to contemplate some very deep things about what it is to be human. Have we been wrong all along about this kind of behaviour that we thought was unique to modern humans?

“Did we inherit that behaviour from deep time and is it something that (the earliest humans) have always been able to do?”

Prof Berger believes that the discovery of a creature that has such a mix of modern and primitive features should make scientists rethink the definition of what it is to be human – so much so that he himself is reluctant to describe naledi as human.

Other researchers working in the field, such as Prof Stringer, believe that naledi should be described as a primitive human. But he agrees that current theories need to be re-evaluated and that we have only just scratched the surface of the rich and complex story of human evolution.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34192447

The world’s oldest psychiatric institution, the Bethlem Royal Hospital outside London, this week opened a new museum and art gallery charting the evolution in the treatment of mental disorders.

The original hospital was founded in 1247 in what is now central London and the name spawned the English word “bedlam” meaning chaos and madness.

In the 18th century visitors could pay to gawk at the hospital’s patients and, three centuries later, stereotypes about mental illness still abound.

“The museum is to do with challenging the stigma around mental health and one of the main ways you can do that is actually get people to walk onto the site and realise that this is not a frightening, threatening and dark place,” Victoria Northwood, head of the Archives and Museum, told AFP.

The bleak period in the history of mental treatment is addressed but not dwelled upon in the museum.

Iron and leather shackles used until the mid-19th century to restrain patients are displayed behind a wall of mirrors so they cannot be seen directly.

A padded cell is deconstructed and supplemented with audio of a patient describing what is was like to be locked inside.

The exhibition is full of interactive exhibits, including a video where the visitor is challenged to decide whether to commit a young woman, in denial about the dangers of her anorexia, to hospital against her will.

The decision is surprisingly difficult and it shows the complexity in diagnosing ailments linked to the brain, which we still know comparatively little.

“We are just getting across that this is not a black and white issue. It is not very easy. Human beings aren’t very easy,” Northwood said.

Art features strongly throughout the space, starting with the imposing 17th century statues “Raving Madness” and “Melancholy Madness” by Caius Gabriel Cibber, which used to stand at the entrance to the Bethlem hospital when it was in central London.

Also included are paintings by current or former patients, like Dan Duggan’s haunting charcoal “Cipher” series of a man’s elongated face—a testament to the 41-year-old’s inner turmoil.

Duggan, who made several suicide attempts and was detained three times under the mental health act including at Bethlem, said art was an instrumental tool in his recovery.

“A lot of the time you spend in hospital, particularly a psychiatric hospital, is very prescribed.

“When you’re engaged in a creative process, you’re able to be free of all of that for a while and the power is back in your hands to do whatever you want to do,” he said.

Visual artist and dancer Liz Atkin grew up in an alcoholic household. She developed dermatillomania or Compulsive Skin Picking from the age of eight as a way to manage the stress.

“I could have ended things in a very different way,” said Atkin, now aged 38.

Atkin received treatment and works with patients at the anxiety unit of Bethlem, which is now located in spacious grounds about one hour south of London.

She said the new museum and gallery is a unique space to encourage healing.

“Making artwork isn’t a complete cure and I personally don’t think that I’m cured, but I think it provides a very powerful outlet for some of those things that are hard to talk about.”

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-02-world-oldest-psychiatric-hospital-museum.html

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum wants all armchair historians to volunteer for a special project they can do from home.

The library needs help transcribing 30,000 pages of historical documents.

Volunteers would get a look at the document, then type out what they see. Officials say the papers give unique insight into the day-to-day experience of living in Illinois during the Civil War.

Documents like these would ordinarily not be transcribed, leaving researchers to dig through them as they try to find something related to their topic. But in crowdsourcing the project, the library hopes to create a searchable database available to researchers around the world.

If you’re up for the challenge, visit ChroniclingIllinois.org and click on “Transcriptions.” That takes visitors to a page with links at the top and bottom to create an account. After you sign up, a confirmation will be sent to your email. Click on it and then go back to the Transcriptions page to select a document and begin.

http://www.wsiltv.com/news/three-states/Lincoln-Museum-Looking-for-Help-Writing-History-285572071.html

Thanks to Beth Pieper for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.