Throughout a lot of my reading about ancient Sumer, Egypt, Babylon, etc. I came across references to famous people...usually kings...living hundreds if not thousands of years. I don't have the materials in front of me right now but as I recall a fellow named Berossos was a Greek historian who went to Egypt and was commissioned to write a history of mankind and how Egypt fit in. He wrote the history but it hasn't survived down through the ages.
However other writers, who apparently read the Berossos history, quoted him extensively. Among these secondary sources we have what has become called the "Kings List". I know this list exists, but just hope my recollection is correct that it came orginally from Berossos. If any of you can confirm this or set me right, I'm all ears. Hopefully, I'll have time to go back and find the reference.
At any rate, this King's List was put together in very ancient times and purports to identify the Kings of Egypt and the surrounding territory going WAY back in time...thousands of years before historical Egypt. One of the books I read actually reproduced the names and the dates of the reigns. I'll dig that out and publish here asap.
Meanwhile, what was particularly interesting was that these kings each reigned for hundreds and even thousands of years! Again, I've forgotten the details but there are about 18 kings listed and together they reigned over something like 25,000 years. And then came historical Egypt.
So let's leave aside the (very interesting) implication that some of these kings reigned BEFORE the flood, while others came afterwards. Instead I want to focus on how old these guys are believed to have been! What's going on? Is it all made up? Berrosos making it up? Was he just wrong?
Recall also that the Bible has a few heroes that were also extremely long-lived. Noah for example, and of course Methuselah. Hundreds of years in each case.
Now if you're a fan of Zechariah Sitchin, you know his explanation for this extreme longevity. Namely, the good folks from Nibiru came to earth with a slightly different biology from us...due in part to living all their lives on a planet where time moves much more slowly than on Earth (he says 1year on Nibiru is equal to 3600 Earth-years). Further he says that the early kings were, in fact, people from Nibiru. As time went on and they inter-married with Earthlings, their lives became progressively shorter--which is reflected in the Kings List. So while they were at first living thousands of Earth-years, by the time we get to Noah and company, those of Nibirian stock were down to mere hundreds of years. Enki, their purported chief scientist saw what was happening and embarked on a science project to learn enough about aging on Earth that he would be able to slow it down if not eliminate it completely. He was, Sitchin says, well on the way to a solution when when he got side-tracked by little things such as the Flood and a rebellion among the Nibirians themselves and constant jousting with his half-brother Enlil. Can Sitchin be believed? Who knows? The jury is out, but it's not looking so good. Still, it's a GREAT story.
Meanwhile, enter Ray Kurweil. Pardon the rhyme. Kurweil, among many, many accomplishments, invented one of the best music synthesizers of all time: The Kurzweil 250. Amazing. He's moved on (although his company continues to thrive). He now is a very active scientist and futurist, writing books such as "The Age of Spiritual Machines","How to create a mind", "The Singularity is Near" and "Living For Ever".
I'm reading the Singularity book right now. While not the main point, he talks at length about all the scientific progress that's been made lately (the book was published in 2005) on understanding the biological processes related to aging. He notes that we've got quite a few insights already into slowing down aging. So many, in fact, that if we applied that knowledge we could right now extend our lives dramatically. He talks about re-programming our biology (with exercise and diet and massive vitamin suppliments).
He talks about how many scientific experiments have been done on animals and the procedures have lengthened their lives. He says that when the new insights are transferred over to humans, probably in the next 10 years, we'll be able to live very, very long lives.
So when I read about the kings on the Kings list, and when I read in the Bible about Noah and Methuselah, and then I consider the cutting-edge science that Ray Kurzweil is talking about, it really seems possible that the human body can actually live that long. We may be now at the same place Enki (supposedly) was, on the verge of understanding enough about the Earthly biological processes to slow down aging. And whether that connection is true or not, what Kurzweil is talking about is not mythology or magic--it's hard science. Can't wait to read his other books to find out how. You may want to check them out too! Here's the specifics on the book of his I'm reading now:
Kurzweil, R., The Singularity is Near, Penguin Books, 2005.