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Column

Histories Mysteries: Alexander the Great’s mysterious death

There was something strange about Alexander the Great when he died in 323 B.C. in Babylon. His body showed no signs of decomposition for six days. Many Greeks felt this proved that he was no mere human, but a god. But maybe there was more to his death than they thought.

Alexander the Great had crated an empire marked by a grand military campaign. However, when in Babylon, the 32-year-old general suddenly fell ill and died within 12 days.

For centuries, historians speculated the cause of his death, ranging from malaria, typhoid, alcohol poisoning and assassination. However, a recent scholar is promoting a new theory that may finally explain his demise.

It is suggested that he suffered from a neurological disorder called “Guillain-Barre Syndrome.” This autoimmune disorder could have been contracted from common bacteria at that time. It produces an advancing paralysis without causing unconsciousness.

As the general suffered increasing paralysis, his body began to shut down. Slowly, his breath would become less and less evident. His physicians relied on the absence of breath to declare death. Therefore, Alexander the Great may have been declared dead, paralyzed from his condition, but fully conscious and unable to give a sign that he still was alive.

This may well explain why his body did not begin to decompose for six days after being declared dead – he hadn’t died yet.

• Professor James Pinkerton is a retired educator who loves to share the mystery in our history. He can be reached at pinkertonjames1914 @gmail.com.

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