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Egyptian Canopic Jars at the Crossroad of Medicine and Archaeology: Overview of 100 Years of Research and Future Scientific Expectations


Senti, Sidney; Habicht, Michael E; Rayo, Enrique; Eppenberger, Patrick E; Rühli, Frank J; Galassi, Francesco M (2018). Egyptian Canopic Jars at the Crossroad of Medicine and Archaeology: Overview of 100 Years of Research and Future Scientific Expectations. Pathobiology, 85(5-6):267-275.

Abstract

Ancient Egyptian human remains have been of interest in the fields of both medical and Egyptological research for decades. However, canopic jar holders for internal organs (liver, lungs, stomach, intestines) of Egyptian mummies appear to be but a very occasional source of data for such investigations. The few medical approaches focusing on the content of these jars are summarized and listed according to pathogens and diseases to give a structured overview of this field of study. An extensive search of the literature has been conducted from different bibliographic databases with a total of n = 26 studies found. The majority of diseases found consisted of infectious diseases and internal medicine conditions such as schistosomiasis or emphysema. These are just 2 examples of many that, instead of primarily affecting bone, muscle or skin, specifically target internal organs. Hence, a better understanding of the evolution of diseases that still affect mankind could be gained. In conclusion, this reassessment shows that canopic jars represent a highly underestimated source for histological, radiological and ancient DNA examination of Ancient Egyptian remains and should, thus, be more and more brought back into the focus of retrospective medical research.

Abstract

Ancient Egyptian human remains have been of interest in the fields of both medical and Egyptological research for decades. However, canopic jar holders for internal organs (liver, lungs, stomach, intestines) of Egyptian mummies appear to be but a very occasional source of data for such investigations. The few medical approaches focusing on the content of these jars are summarized and listed according to pathogens and diseases to give a structured overview of this field of study. An extensive search of the literature has been conducted from different bibliographic databases with a total of n = 26 studies found. The majority of diseases found consisted of infectious diseases and internal medicine conditions such as schistosomiasis or emphysema. These are just 2 examples of many that, instead of primarily affecting bone, muscle or skin, specifically target internal organs. Hence, a better understanding of the evolution of diseases that still affect mankind could be gained. In conclusion, this reassessment shows that canopic jars represent a highly underestimated source for histological, radiological and ancient DNA examination of Ancient Egyptian remains and should, thus, be more and more brought back into the focus of retrospective medical research.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Uncontrolled Keywords:Pathology and Forensic Medicine, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:1 January 2018
Deposited On:08 Mar 2019 12:20
Last Modified:09 Mar 2019 08:35
Publisher:Karger
ISSN:1015-2008
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1159/000490797
PubMed ID:30130765

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Content: Published Version
Language: English
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Embargo till: 2019-08-21