Thursday, October 21, 2010

Alexander the Great Killed by Toxic Bacteria


There have been many different theories on how the ruler Alexander the Great may have died at the young age of thirty-two. One theory suggests that he may have been poisoned, and the poison may have come from the deadly Styx River. The Styx River according to myth is the portal to the underworld, the waters lethal enough to ruin crystal, pottery and bronze, and even render a god unable to move or breath for a year. Recently, scientists have found that there may actually be a deadly poison in the river. This “poison” would be calicheamicin, a secondary metabolite of Micromonospora echinospora that is extremely cytotoxic. It was first found in deposits of calcium carbonate that form on limestone. The waters of the Styx come from the mountains of Achaia, Greece and run over a limestone crag where the bacteria could be picked up. The bacteria can cause illness that induces high fever, chills, and severe muscle and neurological pains, which are similar to the symptoms that Alexander faced in his last days. Since the water was said to be deadly enough to strike down a god, and Alexander was considered semi-divine it is possible one saw it the best poison to kill him. Scientists have yet to determine if calicheamicin is definitely the toxic bacteria to plague the Styx River, however, and there is no way to know if it is fact the cause of the once great rulers death.
Emily M. Period 1

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I think this article is very interesting. I find it odd that Alexander the Great could have died in such a rare way and it is just now being figured out.