• ancient Egyptians;
  • spinal arthritis;
  • DISH;
  • trauma;
  • congenital malformation


The spine can provide a large amount of information about an individual's physical condition and possible lifestyle through palaeopathological investigations. The aim of this research was to study spinal diseases among Greco-Roman ancient Egyptians from Bahriyah Oasis, and to compare them with those from Giza of the Old Kingdom. The material used in the study included 809 single vertebrae and 77 adult sacra of ancient Egyptians from the Greco-Roman period (332–30 BC) that were excavated from Bahriyah Oasis. The spinal elements were examined for pathological conditions, degenerative diseases, trauma, congenital abnormalities, infectious diseases and neoplasms. The most common lesions of the spine were those due to degenerative processes. The articular facets were more affected than the vertebral bodies. Compression fractures of the bodies, mostly due to osteoporosis, were found in 1.44% and 5.07% of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae respectively. The percentage of spina bifida occulta among ancient Egyptians from Bahriyah Oasis was 62.33%, while among those from Giza was only 3.33%. Few cases of lumbar spondylolysis and one case of DISH were recorded. No cases of infectious or neoplastic diseases were found. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.