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Multifocal bone lesions in an ancient Egyptian child mummy


Öhrström, Lena M; Scheer, Ianina; Seiler, Roger; Böni, Thomas; Rühli, Frank J (2018). Multifocal bone lesions in an ancient Egyptian child mummy. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 22:93-99.

Abstract

Ancient mummies are very valuable human remains especially for the study of the evolution of disease. Non-invasive imaging methods such as computed tomography and X-ray are the gold standard to study such precious remains. We report the case of an ancient Egyptian child mummy from the Musée d'art et d'histoire in Geneva, Switzerland with multifocal sclerotic bone lesions affecting the spine and the left hip. The mummy is of unknown provenance, dating to the Roman period with an estimated age of 4–5 years. An infectious origin of the lesions such as tuberculosis seems most likely. Also regarding the time period an infectious etiology is plausible, since there is evidence that tuberculosis was wide spread in ancient Egypt. However, multiple differential diagnoses are discussed, since the evaluation of disease in ancient remains is different to the clinical standards. Medical history and additional invasive investigations are lacking. Also the desiccation and mummification processes lead to alteration of the tissue resulting in anatomico-morphological distortions. Thus our hypothesis can not be proven and multiple differential diagnoses need to be taken into consideration in this rare case.

Abstract

Ancient mummies are very valuable human remains especially for the study of the evolution of disease. Non-invasive imaging methods such as computed tomography and X-ray are the gold standard to study such precious remains. We report the case of an ancient Egyptian child mummy from the Musée d'art et d'histoire in Geneva, Switzerland with multifocal sclerotic bone lesions affecting the spine and the left hip. The mummy is of unknown provenance, dating to the Roman period with an estimated age of 4–5 years. An infectious origin of the lesions such as tuberculosis seems most likely. Also regarding the time period an infectious etiology is plausible, since there is evidence that tuberculosis was wide spread in ancient Egypt. However, multiple differential diagnoses are discussed, since the evaluation of disease in ancient remains is different to the clinical standards. Medical history and additional invasive investigations are lacking. Also the desiccation and mummification processes lead to alteration of the tissue resulting in anatomico-morphological distortions. Thus our hypothesis can not be proven and multiple differential diagnoses need to be taken into consideration in this rare case.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:1 December 2018
Deposited On:01 Nov 2018 10:15
Last Modified:27 Feb 2019 08:38
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:2352-409X
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.09.011

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