Eat Like an Ancient Egyptian

Nina Teicholz  is again busy rewriting history to make it fit better with her hypothesis that a diet heavy in meat is the best for health:

Lets deal first with the premise that these two images are representations of how we used to eat. The models in question are funerary objects which were found in the tomb of an Egyptian noble called Meketre1, who was a chancellor and chief steward during the reign of Mentuhotepo II and III during the Middle Kingdom (between about 2000 BC and 1700 BC).

What is funny here is that Teicholz blatantly omits other parts of the find from the very same tomb, which are housed in the very same Museum, which run counter to her thesis. For example the tomb also contained a model of a bakery and brewery 3 :

DT208237There is also a model of a granary 4 which according to the Museum description includes an “…accounting area…[…]…Keeping track of grain supplies was crucial…”:

DT2518 (2)

This should come as no surprise, since the Egyptians were an agricultural society who pretty much invented , and their success was attributable to large scale agriculture and irrigation techniques which they used to exploit the nutrient rich flood areas surrounding the Nile to grow crops.

It also seems that Teicholz fails to understand the purpose and context of these objects. These are not necessarily a record of what everyday people were eating at the time, they were specifically placed in the tombs of the elite – nobles and priests – along with actual food to sustain them in the afterlife, in the way in which they had become accustomed to during life.

Rather than showing how we used to eat, the “we” being the general population, these objects (including those awfully inconvenient depictions of grains) should more accurately be labelled: how the Ancient Egyptian elite ate.

Finally, lets looks consider the idea that when it comes to diet we forget history at our peril. While this appears to be a simple fallacious appeal to tradition (there is little reason to conclude this way of eating was the best for health back then, or that it is now) I’m going to agree with Teicholz on this one.

With this in mind, I look forward to hearing her thoughts on research 5 which shows that the mummified remains of Ancient Egyptian Priests (who ate the fairly well documented food offerings which were made to the gods – a meat heavy 50%+ fat diet high in saturated fat) showed the signs of what looks suspiciously like vascular calcification.


References

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TT280

2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Kingdom_of_Egypt

3 http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/544258

4 http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/545281

5 http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)60294-2/fulltext

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Eat Like an Ancient Egyptian

  1. The ancient Egyptians ate tons of bread as well. That’s why they had vascular disease. Saturated fat is neutral in the causation of heart disease.

    1. I’m glad you agree with me about Teicholz’s misrepresentation of the ancient Egyptian diet, it’s one of her dafter claims which is easily shown to be false.

      You also might want to revisit the Lancet article which I cited:-

      “…bread that was eaten differed from that consumed today, often being enriched with fat, milk, and eggs. The cakes were typically made with animal fat or oil.”

      …it is still evident from a conservative estimate that the dietary energy was more than 50% from fat with a significant portion of this coming from saturated fat.

      I don’t think you could conclude causality – there are other factors at play e.g. high alcohol intake – but its an interesting finding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s