Can’t hear? Become a monk

Communal grave at Mount Nebo monastery held at least 57 men. Source: ScienceNews.

During the Byzantine era, it’s possible certain monasteries were an alluring career choice for hard of hearing men.

Since 2007 bioarchaeologist Margaret Judd has excavated a crypt at Mount Nebo monastery in Jordan and found the remains of as many as 57 men she believes were monks. At the American Schools of Oriental Research she reported that 16 percent of these skeletons showed signs they suffered from hearing loss. She said they had from an infection, otitis media, in childhood that inflamed their middle ear and impaired their hearing.

Judd proposes that being able to hear wasn’t a deal breaker for this holy order, after all they all took vows of silence upon entering the monastery.

Two other sets of human remains exhibited injured stapes bones in their middle ears and two more men had thickened or fractured facial bones that affected that their hearing.

Judd told ScienceNews she believes some of these monks may not have noticed their increasing hearing loss since they communicated mainly by hand signals.


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