Oldest case of renal tuberculosis discovered in Egyptian Mummy

By: | Updated: September 27, 2015 9:26 PM

Researchers have discovered what may be the oldest recorded case of renal tuberculosis in a 2,800-year-old Egyptian mummy.

Researchers have discovered what may be the oldest recorded case of renal tuberculosis in a 2,800-year-old Egyptian mummy.

The renal disorder made it possible for researchers in Portugal to observe the kidney in the radiological analysis, marking the first time a kidney has been spotted in X-rays on an ancient Egyptian mummy.

The discovery was radiological outline of a kidney in the ancient Egyptian mummy.

Kept at the National Museum of Archaeology in Lisbon, Portugal, the mummy, of unknown provenance, dates back to some 2,800 years.

“It’s a male named Irtieru. We do not know exactly what he did in life, but the quality of his cartonnage links him to an elite family,” researchers said.

The white cartonnage decorated in polychrome, on which Irtieru’s name is painted vertically, is typical of the Twenty-Second Dynasty (about 945u2013712 BC).

X-Rays (radiography and CT scans) showed Irtieru rests in his coffin with his arms lying alongside his body and with his hands crossed over his body. He was tall for his time, about 5.61 feet, and died between 35 and 45 years of age.

Researchers also observed a small, bean-shaped structure at the left lumbar region. They believe this is the first time a kidney has been depicted in X-Rays.

“This kidney display only happened as a consequence of a pathologic preservation, since Irtieru was affected by an end-stage renal tuberculosis,” Carlos Prates, a radiologist at Imagens Medicas Integradas in Lisbon, told ‘Discovery News’.

The diagnosis for kidney turberculosis is supported by the anatomical location, and morphologic and structural analysis of the organ.

“If this diagnosis is correct this would be the oldest recorded case of this disease,” the researchers wrote in The International Journal of Paleopathology.

Irtieru’s renal disorder is the reason his kidney was visible in the radiological analysis, researchers said.

Kidneys were usually not removed in ancient Egyptian mummies, because they were considered unimportant and difficult to extract through the embalming cut, according to Greek historian Diodorus Siculus.

It is possible that kidneys exist in more mummies but simply have gone unnoticed, researchers said.

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