Mystery of Alexander the Great's death solved? Ruler was 'killed by toxic wine' claim scientists
A leading toxicologist has said that Alexander the Great may have died after drinking wine made from a poisonous plant that would have cause a slow and painful death
Sunday 12 January 2014
Alexander the Great may have been killed by toxic wine made from a poisonous but harmless-looking plant, scientists have claimed.
The mystery of why the Greek King of Macedon, ruler of the largest empire in the ancient world, died at just 32 has baffled historians and scientists for over 2000 years.
Some argue that he passed due to natural causes while others believe he was secretly murdered using poison at a celebratory banquet.
His death in 323BCE came at the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon after he developed a fever and soon became unable to speak and walk. He was ill for 12 days.
Dr Leo Schep, a toxicologist from New Zealand’s National Poisons Centre says it is impossible that poisons such as arsenic were to blame - as cited in some theories - as death would have come too fast.
Instead, in his new research, Dr Schep argues that the most likely culprit was Veratrum album, a poisonous plant from the lily family also known as white or false hellebore.
Often fermented by the Greeks as a herbal treatment for inducing vomiting, importantly, it could account for the 12 days it took for the leader to die.
It would also match an account of Alexander the Great’s death written by ancient Greek historian Diodorus, who said he was struck with pain after drinking a large bowl of unmixed wine in honour of Hercules.
“Veratrum poisoning is heralded by the sudden onset of epigastric and substernal pain, which may also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting, followed by bradycardia and hypotension with severe muscular weakness. Alexander suffered similar features for the duration of his illness,” the research, printed in the medical journal Clinical Toxicology says.
Dr Schep has been working on the mystery for over 10 years after he was approached by a team for a BBC documentary in 2003.
“They asked me to look into it for them and I said, 'Oh yeah, I'll give it a go, I like a challenge' - thinking I wasn't going to find anything. And to my utter surprise, and their surprise, we found something that could fit the bill,” he told The New Zealand Herald.
Dr Shep does however caution that despite his theory, the actual cause of death cannot be proven: “We'll never know really,” he says.
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Denmark bans kosher and halal slaughter as minister says ‘animal rights come before religion’
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Israel-Gaza conflict: The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The missiles were tragically real
Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
Syria conflict: Syrian and Turkish Kurds unite to battle Isis threat - ‘We shoot them like sheep, but next day double the number return’
Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star, dies aged 45
The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified ...
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently for ...
£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienc...
£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...