Mariam Amash (1888? – 22 December 2012) was an Arab-Israeli woman of Bedouin descent, who claimed to be the oldest person ever.[1][3]

According to her Ottoman Empire-issued birth certificate, Amash was born in the Ottoman Empire in 1888, near the town of Jisr az-Zarqa in northern Israel, where she lived most of her life.[4] The discovery that she may be the oldest person in the world came when she applied for an identity card from the Israeli government using that birth certificate. Israeli officials have confirmed that she is listed in the Israeli population registry as having been born in that year, although they are unsure if it is correct.[1][2]

The Guinness Book of Records, the group who authorizes the "official" oldest living person record, have not yet validated (nor have they invalidated) her claim.[5] If Amash's birth date were verified, she would become the oldest person ever, surpassing Jeanne Calment.

In February 2008, Amash was reported as being "remarkably sprightly",[2] with 10 children, 120 grandchildren, 250 great-grandchildren and 20–30 great-great-grandchildren.[1][2][4] Amash said the key to longevity is a healthy diet abundant in vegetables.[2] In particular, she attributed her own longevity to drinking olive oil every day, avoiding alcohol, and eating a local herb Palestinians often use in salads. She also stated that she expected to live "another ten years".

Amash had bad hearing and could only recall portions of the past at a time, making her difficult to interview. In a 2008 interview with Al Jazeera English, she recalled the Ottomans as being "nice", but did not like the British when they took over in 1917, and is satisfied with life in modern day Israel, especially with her government-provided social security. A devout Muslim, she made the Hajj to Mecca five times.[2]

In 2008 it was reported that her youngest son was 54. If her age claim were true, it would indicate that she gave birth to him at the age of 66.[6]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 AP (14 February 2008). She claims six score, if you’re keeping score. MSNBC. Retrieved on 2012-12-27.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Patience, Martin (15 February 2008). World's 'oldest' person in Israel. BBC News. Retrieved on 15 February 2008.
  3. Shaalan, Hassan (22 December 2012). '124-year-old' Arab-Israeli woman dies. Retrieved on 2012-12-24.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Israeli woman claims to be world's oldest person. Mail Online (17 February 2008). Retrieved on 2012-12-27.
  5. Associated Press (14 February 2008). Woman Applying for New ID Says She's 120. ABC News. Retrieved on 16 February 2008.
  6. Young, Robert D.; Desjardins, Bertrand; McLaughlin, Kirsten; Poulain, Michel; Perls, Thomas T. (15 March 2011). "Typologies of Extreme Longevity Myths". Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research 2010: 1–12. DOI:10.1155/2010/423087. PMC PMC3062986. // Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
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