Stanford archaeologist leads the first detailed study of human remains at the ancient Egyptian site of Deir el-Medin
Stanford archaeologist leads the first detailed study of human remains at the ancient Egyptian site of Deir el-Medina. By combining an analysis of written artifacts with a study of skeletal remains, Stanford postdoctoral scholar Anne Austin is creating a detailed picture of care and medicine in the ancient world.
Ancient Egyptian workers in a village that's now called Deir el-Medina were beneficiaries of what Stanford Egyptologist Anne Austin calls "the earliest documented governmental health care plan."
The craftsmen who built Egyptian pharaohs' royal tombs across the Nile from the modern city of Luxor worked under grueling conditions, but they could also take a paid sick day or visit a "clinic" for a free checkup.
For decades, Egyptologists have seen evidence of these health care benefits in the well preserved written records from the site, but Austin, a specialist in osteo-archaeology (the study of ancient bones), led the first detailed study of human remains at the site.
A postdoctoral scholar in the Department of History, Austin compared Deir el-Medina's well-known textual artifacts to physical evidence of health and disease to create a newly comprehensive picture of how Egyptian workers lived. Austin is continuing her research during her tenure as a fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities ...