Thursday, October 25, 2007

How to Live Forever (or at least to 100)

By Jason Wilson

The Mediterranean island of Sardinia is dotted with prehistoric stone ruins called nuraghi. Little is known about the nuraghi, or the ancient people who built them, except that they predate the earliest invaders to Sardinia, the Phoenicians, who arrived here about 9,000 years ago.

I passed a number of nuraghi as I drove up into the island’s interior through mountains of limestone and granite, on a terrifying road, into a region called the Ogliastra. It’s never been an easy ramble into Sardinia’s mountains. Neither the Phoenicians nor any of other invaders who came to Sardinia later — Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Carthaginians, Arabs, Genoese, Catalans — were ever able to the penetrate them.

The villages of Ogliastra have had very little contact with the outside world since about the 11th century. Even now, the region is considered by many to be a wild, dangerous place and travelers like me are regularly warned about bandits and kidnappers.

Ignoring those overheated warnings, I traveled into the Ogliastra anyway. I’d been sent into the wild interior of Sardinia on assignment by AARP Magazine. Researchers had recently documented an abnormal cluster of modern-day Methuselahs residing here. At least one man in this region lived to 112 and, until his death, was the oldest man in the world. And there were many other centenarians living in isolated Ogliastra villages.

Basically, my AARP assignment called for me to barge in on very old Sardinians and ask: How can our readers, too, live such a long life?


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