It happened over 2,300 years ago, but the mystery surrounding Alexander the Great’s death may have finally been solved. Dr. Katherine Hall, who is a Senior Lecturer at the Dunedin School of Medicine as well as a practicing clinician, says that Alexander the Great died as a result of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) which is a neurological disorder. This is a very different theory compared to the most common beliefs that the ancient ruler passed away from an infection, alcoholism, or even murder.
After Alexander passed away in 323 B.C. at just 32 years of age, his body didn’t show any signs of decomposition for six days. In addition to the delayed decaying of his body, he had several other symptoms that would indicate that he possibly died from GBS. Before his death, he suffered from a fever, abdominal pain, and paralysis, but had complete control of his mind until right before his passing.
While Dr. Hall believes that he caught a Campylobacter pylori infection which often caused GBS at that time, she also added that the delay of his body decaying had the Ancient Greeks convinced that “this proved that Alexander was a god.”
One of the most interesting points that Dr. Hall made was the fact that she believes the reason why his body didn’t decay for six whole days is because he wasn’t in fact dead yet. He was paralyzed and had lower oxygen demands which meant that it would have been hard to see him breathing. His body’s temperature auto regulation may have been failing and his pupils would have became dilated and fixed. That means that it was possible that he could have been mistakenly pronounced dead when he wasn’t.
Dr. Hall went on to say, “I wanted to stimulate new debate and discussion and possibly rewrite the history books by arguing Alexander’s real death was six days later than previously accepted. His death may be the most famous case of pseudothanatos, or false diagnosis of death, ever recorded.”
Dr. Hall’s theory that Alexander the Great may have suffered from GBS and could have died several days later than previously thought, creates much interest among people who are fascinated with the ancient ruler. The mystery surrounding his death may never be solved, but this new explanation definitely seems plausible.