Ancient Egyptian scribes suffered back pain from sitting down for too long.

Ancient Egyptian scribes suffered from back pain

Ancient Egyptian scribes suffered from back pain

A new study has revealed how the repetitive tasks carried out by high-status men with the ability to write and the positions they sat in while doing so could have caused degenerative skeletal changes.

Researchers in the Czech Republic examined the skeletal remains of 69 adult males - 30 of whom were scribes - buried in the necropolis at Abusir between 2700 and 2180 BC and noticed degenerative changes that were more commonplace amongst writers than those in other occupations.

The researchers from the National Museum in Prague wrote in the journal Scientific Reports: "Men with writing proficiency enjoyed a privileged position in ancient Egyptian society.

"Research focusing on these officials of elevated social status usually concentrated on their titles, scribal statues, iconography, etc., but the individuals themselves, and their skeletal remains, have been neglected.

"Statistically significant differences between the scribes and the reference group attested a higher incidence of changes in scribes and manifested themselves in the occurrence of osteoarthritis of the joints.

"Our research reveals that remaining in a cross-legged sitting or kneeling position for extended periods, and the repetitive tasks relating to writing and the adjusting of the rush pens during scribal activity, caused the extreme overloading of the jaw, neck and shoulder regions."