Skeletons reveal what life was like for elite scribes in ancient Egypt

by | Jun 28, 2024 | Science

Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.Performing administrative tasks in ancient Egypt may not sound physically demanding, but new research has revealed that being a scribe left a mark on the skeletons of the men who held those privileged positions.Scribes were high-status men with the ability to write and were part of the 1% of the population that was literate, according to the authors of a new study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.But the tasks that scribes carried out were repetitive. Today, office workers seek ergonomically supportive chairs for long hours sitting at a desk. The Egyptian men assumed one of three positions that became an occupational hazard, the study authors found.Researchers analyzed the remains of 69 men buried at a necropolis in Abusir, Egypt, between 2700 BC and 2180 BC. Thirty of the men were scribes, as marked on their tombs, and their skeletons had more degenerative joint changes within specific areas of their bodies than the other remains.The findings open a new window into what life was like for scribes in ancient Egypt during the third millennium BC.Becoming a scribeThe remains analyzed in the study belonged to men who lived in the heyday of ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom, or the era of pyramid builders, said study coauthor Veronika Dulíková, an Egyptologist within the Czech Institute of Egyptology at Charles University in Prague.Records from that time indicate to researchers that sons of elite families were educated at the royal court.“At a very early age, in their teens, they enlisted to serve in entry-level positions in various administrative offices to gain the …

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[mwai_chat context=”Let’s have a discussion about this article:nnSign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news on fascinating discoveries, scientific advancements and more.Performing administrative tasks in ancient Egypt may not sound physically demanding, but new research has revealed that being a scribe left a mark on the skeletons of the men who held those privileged positions.Scribes were high-status men with the ability to write and were part of the 1% of the population that was literate, according to the authors of a new study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports.But the tasks that scribes carried out were repetitive. Today, office workers seek ergonomically supportive chairs for long hours sitting at a desk. The Egyptian men assumed one of three positions that became an occupational hazard, the study authors found.Researchers analyzed the remains of 69 men buried at a necropolis in Abusir, Egypt, between 2700 BC and 2180 BC. Thirty of the men were scribes, as marked on their tombs, and their skeletons had more degenerative joint changes within specific areas of their bodies than the other remains.The findings open a new window into what life was like for scribes in ancient Egypt during the third millennium BC.Becoming a scribeThe remains analyzed in the study belonged to men who lived in the heyday of ancient Egypt during the Old Kingdom, or the era of pyramid builders, said study coauthor Veronika Dulíková, an Egyptologist within the Czech Institute of Egyptology at Charles University in Prague.Records from that time indicate to researchers that sons of elite families were educated at the royal court.“At a very early age, in their teens, they enlisted to serve in entry-level positions in various administrative offices to gain the …nnDiscussion:nn” ai_name=”RocketNews AI: ” start_sentence=”Can I tell you more about this article?” text_input_placeholder=”Type ‘Yes'”]
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