Dwarfism not a
physical handicap in Ancient Egypt
December 29th, 2005
The dwarf god Bes
A team of Georgetown University
Hospital studied biological remains and remnants that that showed that
dwarfism in ancient Egypt was not seen as a handicap, but as respected
individuals in this society.
First reported in the December 27th
online American Journal of Medical Genetics, this interesting
investigation showed that Egypt morals teachings and wisdom writings
commanded respect for dwarfs as well as others with disabilities.
Amenemope who wrote in a book of moral teachings said, “Man is clay and
straw, the God is his builder. The Wise Man should respect people
affected by reversal of fortune.”
There are currently 100 medical
conditions that we know of today that cause short stature. The most
common cause is called achondroplasia and causes severely shortened
limbs. Around 75% of dwarfs are born from parents of normal height.
Some dwarfs were part of households
with high official and were respected enough to be buried lavishly in
royal cemeteries close to the pyramids. There are numerous artifacts of
artwork of images of dwarfs found on tomb walls and vases, among other
relics. The researchers say there were numerous representations of
dwarfs in at least 50 tombs, which made them believe that dwarfs were
well integrated into society. The pictures showed dwarfs were working
as personal attendants; they raised animals, were jewelers, dancers,
entertainers, and also managers of the production of linen.
There were two gods, Bes and Ptah,
who were both dwarfs. Bes was a guardian of sexuality, childbirth,
women and children. They would call on Bes during childbirth for a safe
delivery. The temple for Bes was recently excavated in Baharia which is
located in the middle of Egypt. The other dwarf god, Ptah was connected
to regeneration and rejuvenation.
"The burial sites and artistic
sources provide glimpses of the positions in daily life in ancient
Egypt," wrote Dr Chahira Kozma, of the department of paediatrics at
Georgetown University. "Dwarfs were accepted in ancient Egypt; their
recorded daily activities suggest assimilation into daily life, and
their disorder was never shown as a physical handicap."
Best Syndication Staff Writer
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