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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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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.


8 citations in Web of Science®
10 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

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 of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
340 Law
610 Medicine & health
Deposited On:20 Mar 2009 08:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:11
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

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