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Noninvasive(1)H and (23)Na nuclear magnetic resonance imaging of ancient Egyptian human mummified tissue


Münnemann, K; Böni, Thomas; Colacicco, G; Blümich, B; Rühli, Frank J (2007). Noninvasive(1)H and (23)Na nuclear magnetic resonance imaging of ancient Egyptian human mummified tissue. Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 25(9):1341-1345.

Abstract

Historic mummies are a unique example of the human desire for immortality. Therefore, it is not surprising that modern diagnostic imaging has been widely applied to study them. Yet, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of such old remains has never been successfully achieved in a noninvasive way without rehydration. Furthermore, the impact of artificial mummification as done in ancient Egypt by natron (a blend of NaCl, Na(2)CO(3), NaHCO(3) and NaP(2)SO(4)) on human tissue with a particular focus on the sodium spatial distribution has never been addressed. Here, we show for the very first time completely noninvasive (1)H and (23)Na imaging of an ancient Egyptian mummified finger by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Protons could be visualized by NMR only in the tissue close to surface and sodium primarily in the bone, while computer tomography images both, soft tissue and bone but does not distinguish between different chemical elements. The selective enrichment of sodium in the bone may by due to postmortem incorporation of (23)Na into the tissue by natron-based mummification because our reference measurement of a historical finger not subjected to artificial mummification showed no sodium signal at all. Our results demonstrate not only the general feasibility of nonclinical MRI to visualize historic dry human tissues but also shows the specific (1)H and (23)Na spatial distributions in such mummy tissue, which is particularly interesting for archeology and may open up a new application for MRI.

Abstract

Historic mummies are a unique example of the human desire for immortality. Therefore, it is not surprising that modern diagnostic imaging has been widely applied to study them. Yet, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of such old remains has never been successfully achieved in a noninvasive way without rehydration. Furthermore, the impact of artificial mummification as done in ancient Egypt by natron (a blend of NaCl, Na(2)CO(3), NaHCO(3) and NaP(2)SO(4)) on human tissue with a particular focus on the sodium spatial distribution has never been addressed. Here, we show for the very first time completely noninvasive (1)H and (23)Na imaging of an ancient Egyptian mummified finger by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Protons could be visualized by NMR only in the tissue close to surface and sodium primarily in the bone, while computer tomography images both, soft tissue and bone but does not distinguish between different chemical elements. The selective enrichment of sodium in the bone may by due to postmortem incorporation of (23)Na into the tissue by natron-based mummification because our reference measurement of a historical finger not subjected to artificial mummification showed no sodium signal at all. Our results demonstrate not only the general feasibility of nonclinical MRI to visualize historic dry human tissues but also shows the specific (1)H and (23)Na spatial distributions in such mummy tissue, which is particularly interesting for archeology and may open up a new application for MRI.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:November 2007
Deposited On:26 Mar 2010 09:22
Last Modified:18 Feb 2018 12:54
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0730-725X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mri.2007.03.023
PubMed ID:17490843

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