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Ongoing tissue changes in an experimentally mummified human leg


Abstract

Artificial mummification has been used since antiquity and is best known from ancient Egypt. Despite ancient Egyptian mummies being studied for several decades, the mummification techniques of that time are not well understood. Modern mummification experiments involving animal and human tissues have contributed additional insights relevant to a broad field of research. In the current study, we present follow‐up results of an experiment on artificial mummification, which began in 2009. A human leg was artificially mummified and monitored during almost a year with histological, molecular, and radiological techniques. Since then, it has remained in a dry, natron salt blend for nine years. The current analyses show further progression of dehydration and tissue alterations, as well as DNA degradation, suggesting an ongoing process. Our results add new insights into the mechanisms of tissue mummification. Taking into account that the process is still ongoing, further research is required, including a re‐evaluation of the human leg in the future.

Abstract

Artificial mummification has been used since antiquity and is best known from ancient Egypt. Despite ancient Egyptian mummies being studied for several decades, the mummification techniques of that time are not well understood. Modern mummification experiments involving animal and human tissues have contributed additional insights relevant to a broad field of research. In the current study, we present follow‐up results of an experiment on artificial mummification, which began in 2009. A human leg was artificially mummified and monitored during almost a year with histological, molecular, and radiological techniques. Since then, it has remained in a dry, natron salt blend for nine years. The current analyses show further progression of dehydration and tissue alterations, as well as DNA degradation, suggesting an ongoing process. Our results add new insights into the mechanisms of tissue mummification. Taking into account that the process is still ongoing, further research is required, including a re‐evaluation of the human leg in the future.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:340 Law
610 Medicine & health
510 Mathematics
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Anatomy
Life Sciences > Biotechnology
Health Sciences > Histology
Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biotechnology, Anatomy, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics, Histology
Language:English
Date:1 December 2020
Deposited On:19 Dec 2019 11:01
Last Modified:28 Dec 2020 08:01
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1932-8486
Additional Information:For accepted manuscripts: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Ongoing tissue changes in an experimentally mummified human leg, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.24333. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. (http://www.wileyauthors.com/self-archiving)
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ar.24333
PubMed ID:31837087

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