Author(s): Lynnerup N
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Abstract Mummies are human remains with preservation of non-bony tissue. Mummification by natural influences results in so-called natural mummies, while mummification induced by active (human) intervention results in so-called artificial mummies, although many cultures practiced burial rites which to some degree involved both natural and artificial mummification. Since they are so uniquely well-preserved, mummies may give many insights into mortuary practices and burial rites. Specifically, the presence of soft tissues may expand the scope of paleopathological studies. Many recent mummy studies have focused on the development and application of non-destructive methods for examining mummies, especially radiography and CT scanning with advanced 3D visualizations. Indeed, the development of commercially available CT scanners in the 1970s meant that for the first time the 3D internal structure of mummies and bog bodies could be studied non-destructively. This article describes the history of mummy radiography and CT scanning, and some of the problems and opportunities involved in applying these techniques, derived for clinical use, on naturally and artificially preserved ancient human bodies. Unless severely degraded, bone is quite readily visualized, but accurate imaging of preserved soft tissues, and pathological lesions therein, may require considerable post-image capture processing of CT data. Copyright (c) 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.
This article was published in Gerontology
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals