24 August 2010

Was Bes the god of Down Syndrome in Ancient Egypt?

This is a little poster I prepared for the British Human Genetics Conference in 2009. I have this hunch - dare I call it a hypothesis? - that Ancient Egyptians would have recognised Down Syndrome in people born with this condition, and may have made a connection between them and the god Bes. Bes was an interesting god - a dwarf god with a leonine aspect. He was very popular in the domestic setting, but lacked a formal cult centre during most of Egyptian history. Theophoric names mentioning Bes are relatively uncommon, despite Egypt being awash with Bes amulets and statuettes. Have a look at the poster; let me know what you think. Also, if you come across any Bes names or (even better!) Down Syndrome mummies, I would love to get my hands on some data.

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