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Rare Osteoporosis Identified in 3000-Year-Old Gandab Cemetery


05 November 2006




LONDON, (CAIS) -- Third season of archeological excavations in Gandab (Gandāb) historical cemetery in Semnan province resulted in identifying a rare osteoporosis disease which inflicted the inhabitants of this region some 3000 years ago and caused the people to lose their teeth on the upper jaw. Osteoporosis is bone loss that is serious enough to result in fragile bones and increased risk of fracture.


Announcing this news, Farzad Forouzanfar, director of the anthropology department of the Archeology Research Center of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) also said that 19 graves were discovered during the third season of archeological excavations in Gandab.


The discovered graves were scattered around the cemetery and featured different burial methods. Archeologists had to dig four trenches in four different spots in Gandab cemetery to get to the remaining bones in these graves.


According to Forouzanfar, discovery of two samples of a rare osteoporosis disease which was made for the first time in this ancient cemetery was one of the most important accomplishments of this season of excavations in Gandab. The disease infected the upper jaw and caused the teeth to fall off; thus the skeletons were found missing the upper teeth.


Regarding this discovery, Forouzanfar explained: “Two kinds of infections have been identified in the area, one of which affected the upper jaw while the other destroyed other bones. It seems that this was a serious disease some 3000 years ago which caused the loss of the upper jaw in the patient and consequently the upper teeth would fall off.”


The first discovered sample of this disease belongs to a 45-year-old man who had lost all his teeth on the upper jaw before death. However, what is interesting is that all the teeth on the lower jaw look perfectly normal.


The second sample belongs to a woman who suffered sever loss of bone mass. According to Forouzanfar, studies on the skeleton of the woman revealed that she died before the disease overtook her entire body and infected her teeth. He also said that the two infections as seen in the skeletons of the man and the woman were closely related, although the pattern of bone loss is different in each. “Evidence shows that a similar fate was in store for the woman had she lived longer. The woman died between the ages of 25 to 35; and it is likely that she would have lost all her upper teeth like the other skeleton if she had lived up to 45 years of age,” added Forouzanfar.


Gandab is an archeological cemetery dating back to the second to third Iron Age. It is located 3 kilometers from the Iron Age cemetery of Kharand and 50 kilometers from the city of Semnan. Evidence of architectural constructions was observed very close to this ancient cemetery, a feature never seen before in other archeological sites of Iran.




Extracted From/Source: Cultural Heritage News Agency (CHN)

Please note the above-news is NOT a "copy & paste" version from the mentioned-source. The news/article above has been modified with the following interventions by CAIS: Spelling corrections; -Rectification and correction of the historical facts and data; - Providing additional historical information within the text; -Removing any unnecessary, irrelevant & repetitive information.

     All these measures have been taken in order to ensure that the published news provided by CAIS is coherent, accurate and suitable for academics and cultural enthusiasts who visit the CAIS website.



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