Bolivia: Researchers are interested in mummies to learn more about diseases of the past

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In La Paz, Bolivia, a team of researchers from the US, Italy, Peru and Bolivia spent several days examining the mummies collection at the Archeology Museum. They are about forty and date from 1000 to 1450 AD. These mummies have a lot to reveal, especially about the diseases that people suffered from at the time.

From our correspondent in La Paz,

Anthropologists, cardiologists, microbiologists are busy around a table where a mummy is installed in a fetal position. Everyone is wearing protective gowns, masks, it looks like an operating room, but we are actually in the Archeology Museum of La Paz.

Guido Lombardi, doctor and specialist in anthropobiology, explains: “ Andean mummies generally have the advantage, if we compare them to the well-known Egyptian mummies, that they have all their organs in the body. At that time, the Andes only harvested organs from certain individuals who belonged to the elite, such as the Inca emperors. »

In addition to the researchers’ visual inspection and the taking of samples, the mummies are subjected to further examinations and in particular to X-rays. ” It’s a non-invasive way of looking inside, like these mummies wrapped in priceless cloths that we don’t want to destroy, so you can look inside the body and see their spines, connective tissues, arteries and veins , sometimes you can see her brain ‘” explains cardiologist Chris Rowan. ” Thanks to this we can easily diagnose pathologies, we have seen mummies with collapsed vertebrae in certain places where we therefore assume advanced tuberculosis. »

Understanding the past to treat today’s diseases

Chris Rowan is part of the Horus group that diagnoses cardiovascular disease in mummies. These doctors work hand in hand with the Mummy Institute in Bolzano, Italy. And signs of arteriosclerosis, a disease that damages the arteries, have already been found on these hundred-year-old corpses, says doctor Guido Lombardi.

Contrary to what we previously believed that atherosclerosis was a modern disease, the result of junk food and being sedentary, we discovered that this disease had existed for thousands of years, we found it on Egyptian mummies Inca mummies, etc. Now one wonders, “If the cause is not modern life, then what causes this disease?” Because at the moment we don’t know where arteriosclerosis comes from. But if we know it, we can protect ourselves more easily, because it is the number one cause of heart attacks, we’re still talking about the number one killer in the world!

Perhaps it is therefore possible that researchers today can cure diseases by understanding the peoples who lived hundreds of years ago.

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