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Date(s) - 22/03/2016
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Woolnough Lecture Theatre (1.07), Geography and Geology Building

What Egyptian Mummies tell us about the History of the Nile

Presented by Christophe Lécuyer

Samples of tooth enamel and bone have been obtained from Egyptian human and animal mummies that cover the Predynastic (5,500 years BP) to Byzantine periods (1,500 years BP). Mummy teeth and bones record the ratio of stable oxygen isotopes (18O and 16O) of their drinking water, which was ultimately the Nile River water.

Variations in this stable isotope ratio reflect changes in precipitation patterns over the source regions of the Blue (Lake Tana, Ethiopia) and White Nile (Lake Victoria, Tanzania and Uganda). A progressive increase of the 18O/16O ratios of mummy skeletal remains indicates a precipitation decrease of about 140 mm per year while mean air temperatures remained rather constant.

Oxygen isotope variations between bones, tooth enamel and dentine belonging to the same individuals also raise questions about specific dietary changes that may have taken place from the childhood to adulthood transition, or that could be related to movements along the Nile Valley.

This is a free public lecture, RSVP is essential here.


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