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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-17875

Papageorgopoulou, C; Xirotiris, N I; Iten, P X; Baumgartner, M R; Schmid, M; Rühle, F (2009). Indications of embalming in Roman Greece by physical, chemical and histological analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science, 36(1):35-42.

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Abstract

The partially mummified remains of a high-status female (ca. 1700 BP, Thessaloniki, Greece) were found inside a Roman-type marble sarcophagus containing a lead coffin. The individual was positioned on a wooden pallet, wrapped in bandages, and covered with a gold-embroidered purple silk cloth. Besides the clothes, remnants of soft tissue as well as the individual's original hair style and eyebrows were exceptionally well preserved. In addition to the macroscopic examination, microscopic and biochemical analyses were undertaken. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis, and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) were applied to examine the tissue preservation and probable mechanisms of mummification. The presence of chemical components, such as sesquiterpenes, triterpenoids, and diterpenoids, originating from coniferous and pistacia resins, myrrh, and other spices, verify ancient information on preparation methods of the dead in Greek and Roman times. These chemical components are thought to have played a prominent role in the mummification mechanism in this particular case. The potential effect of the lead coffin in the mummification process was also examined. Energy-dispersive X-ray analysis failed to detect lead penetration into the tissues, suggesting that the coffin played a limited role in the preservation of soft tissue.

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute and Museum of the History of Medicine
DDC:570 Life sciences; biology
340 Law
610 Medicine & health
900 History
Language:English
Date:2009
Deposited On:20 Mar 2009 08:16
Last Modified:27 Nov 2013 19:13
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0305-4403
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2008.07.003
Related URLs:https://biblio.unizh.ch/F/?local_base=UZH01&con_lng=GER&func=find-b&find_code=SYS&request=001740249
Citations:Web of Science®. Times Cited: 6
Google Scholar™
Scopus®. Citation Count: 8

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