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CT-based assessment of relative soft tissue alteration in different types of ancient mummies


Sydler, Christina. CT-based assessment of relative soft tissue alteration in different types of ancient mummies. 2015, University of Zurich, Faculty of Medicine.

Abstract

Mummification leads to alteration of soft-tissue morphology. No research has focused specifically on differences in soft-tissue shrinkage depending on mummification type. This study evaluated whether softtissue alteration is dependent on type of mummification. A total of 17 human mummies have been investigated by computed tomography (CT). Samples included artificially embalmed ancient Egyptian mummies, naturally mummified South American corpses, ice mummies (including the Iceman, South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, Bolzano, Italy, ca. 3,300 BC), bog bodies and a desiccated mummy of possibly Asian provenance. The acquired data were compared to four contemporary bodies. The extent of soft-tissue shrinkage was evaluated using CT data. Shrinkage was defined as soft-tissue relative to area of bone (in number of voxels). Measurements were taken at 13 anatomically defined locations. Ice mummies show the highest degree of preservation. This finding is most likely explained due to frozen water within tissues. All other types of mummies show significantly (at P<0.05) smaller relative area of preserved softtissue. Variation between different anatomical structures (e.g., upper lip vs. mid-femur) is significant, unlike variation within one compartment (e.g., proximal vs. distal humerus). Mummification type strongly affects the degree of soft-tissue alteration, surprisingly mostly independent of overall historical age. These results highlight the unique morphological impact of taphonomy on soft-tissue preservation and are of particular interest in tissue research as well as in forensics.

Abstract

Mummification leads to alteration of soft-tissue morphology. No research has focused specifically on differences in soft-tissue shrinkage depending on mummification type. This study evaluated whether softtissue alteration is dependent on type of mummification. A total of 17 human mummies have been investigated by computed tomography (CT). Samples included artificially embalmed ancient Egyptian mummies, naturally mummified South American corpses, ice mummies (including the Iceman, South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, Bolzano, Italy, ca. 3,300 BC), bog bodies and a desiccated mummy of possibly Asian provenance. The acquired data were compared to four contemporary bodies. The extent of soft-tissue shrinkage was evaluated using CT data. Shrinkage was defined as soft-tissue relative to area of bone (in number of voxels). Measurements were taken at 13 anatomically defined locations. Ice mummies show the highest degree of preservation. This finding is most likely explained due to frozen water within tissues. All other types of mummies show significantly (at P<0.05) smaller relative area of preserved softtissue. Variation between different anatomical structures (e.g., upper lip vs. mid-femur) is significant, unlike variation within one compartment (e.g., proximal vs. distal humerus). Mummification type strongly affects the degree of soft-tissue alteration, surprisingly mostly independent of overall historical age. These results highlight the unique morphological impact of taphonomy on soft-tissue preservation and are of particular interest in tissue research as well as in forensics.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Dissertation
Referees:Rühli Frank J
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:11 Mar 2016 09:04
Last Modified:30 Jan 2017 08:10
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.23144

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