New Zealand Academic Proposes Guillain-Barré Syndrome as Cause of Alexander the Great's Death

Alexander the Great

A University of Otago academic in New Zealand may have solved the mystery surrounding Alexander the Great's death over 2,300 years ago.

Dr. Katherine Hall, a Senior Lecturer at the Dunedin School of Medicine, posits that the ancient ruler died from Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a neurological disorder, rather than infection, alcoholism, or murder as previously suggested.

Dr. Hall argues that previous theories have failed to explain an important detail - the fact that Alexander's body did not decompose for six days after his death. She believes that a diagnosis of GBS, caused by a Campylobacter pylori infection, provides a comprehensive explanation for his symptoms and the delayed decomposition. Additionally, she suggests that the difficulties in diagnosing death in ancient times, which relied on the presence of breath rather than a pulse, further complicated the situation. The preservation of Alexander's body after death may not have been miraculous, but rather a result of his body still being alive.

Hall, Katherine. 2018. Did Alexander the Great Die from Guillain-Barré Syndrome? The Ancient History Bulletin. Vol. 32: pp. 106-128 [Online] Available at:

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