Friday, June 29, 2007

Eat Like an Egyptian

I've been fascinated this week by the identification of an ancient Egyptian mummy as being that of Queen Hatshepsut, a powerful pharaoh -- the most powerful Egyptian queen -- who ruled in the 15th century B.C. She apparently was known for dressing like a man and wearing a false beard. Did they call it cross-dressing back then? I want my mummy!

Anyway, this mummy that was discovered back in 1903 was removed from its site in the Valley of the Kings two months ago and taken to Cairo for examination, at which time it was discovered that the mummy was missing a tooth--leaving a space that matches a tooth known to be from the queen.

So, besides being dentally challenged, what do we know about Hatshepsut? Interestingly, she was obese and had diabetes and, possibly, liver cancer. Whoa here. Didn't all Egyptian queens look like Liz Taylor in her Cleopatra gear?

Well, probably not. A little research into the dietary habits of ancient Egyptians shows that only the rich were able to have meat, and had it at every meal. Dairy products were also available for the wealthy. But the ancient Egyptians were major fans of bread--plain bread and sourdough bread. They had quite the sweet tooth, and used copious amounts of honey and dates to sweeten their breads and make cakes, particularly the wealthy. Beer was the beverage of choice; the wealthy could generally afford wine as well.

So Old Hatsy was a bread-eating, beer-guzzling rich lady with a weight issue. Or was it revered back this, a great weight a sign of wealth and power? Ironic considering too often today it's found among the least wealthy and least powerful.

To quote King Solomon, I guess there's really nothing new under the sun.

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