Abstracts of My Lab for Lima Mummy Congress in 2016

Below are the abstracts of my lab for Lima mummy congress in 2016.

>> Invasive technique in accumulation of knowledge for a better non-invasive studies on mummies

> Myeung Ju Kim Dong Soo Yoo, and Dong Hoon Shin 

Bioanthropology and Paleopathology Lab, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea

Scholars in South Korea, like those in the other countries, always care about the minimal damage to mummies while studying on them by various scientific methods. To reduce such   destructions, non-invasive technique has been applied to the mummies as a top priority of examinations. Radiological technique becomes a main research tool for any of mummy studies around the world, for seeing the preservations status of their internal organs and getting any clues for medical diagnosis.
Although the academic importance of non-invasive technique for mummy studies is unquestionable nowadays, however, it still has many drawbacks because this method (for instance CT image analysis), even when employed by highly experienced radiologists, cannot clearly distinguish each mummified organ that was seriously distorted and dislocated by dehydration. Actuallyas as our Aufderheide pointed out, such modern CT technique developed for diagnosing living patients could not be easily used for mummy studies.
At this point, we note that in clinical fields, the correct reading of CT images is firmly based on the accumulated scientific data, comparing repeated post-factum autopsy with its counterpart CT diagnosis. This means that even the mummy autopsy, despite its drawbacks, might be indispensable for concerned researchers, at least under a due consideration of ethics, circumstances and consensus about the need of such studies. As the cumulative results of such invasive study on mummies in fact guarantee more accurate CT readings for them in the future, autopsy of mummies, for making our invaluable non-invasive techniques much authentic,  must be considered much positively than before.

>> Considerations about Age Estimation in Korean Mummy Studies

> Hyejin Lee, Chang Seok Oh, Jong Ha Hong, Yi -Suk Kim, Won Joon Lee, Dong Hoon Shin

Department of Anatomy, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea
Ministry of National Defense Agency KIA Recovery & Identification, Seoul, South Korea
Department of Anatomy, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea
DInstitute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University College of Medicien, Seoul, South Korea

Abstract: In case of age estimation of Korean mummies of Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910 CE), there are some factors of prime consideration with concerned researchers. As the preservation status of Korean mummies was excellent, we thought that their faces could talk many things about their biological profiles, for example, about their age at death. However, in most cases for which we know the exact age of the dead person by various historical evidences, even if the first impression of the mummified people's face looked older, their ages were proven not to be so old as he/she looked. In this presentation, we can show some examples of success and failure in our mummy studies, evidently caused by the errors in age estimation based on Korean mummies’ facial impressions. Actually, this means that when we tried to estimate the mummified people's age in South Korea, the facial impression could not be so informative and decisive for scientists. Rather, like many osteological cases, age markers in the bones and teeth should be considered first for the correct estimation because they were much helpful and conclusive for us to make a correct judgment of many mummy cases' ages. In this study, as for why the mummified people's face looked much older than the exact age, we also tried to show its possible mechanism by the techniques of craniofacial reconstruction and histology.

>> A Neo-Confucian Concept for World after Death and Accidental Mummification in East Asia

> Dong Hoon Shin, Mi Kyung Song and Ho Chul Ki

Bioanthropology and Paleopathology Lab, Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University College of Medicine, South Korea (cuteminjae@gmail.com; hochulki@naver.com)
Department of Clothing Science, Seoul Women’s University, Seoul, South Korea (strling@naver.com)

Studies on Joseon mummies have provided researchers with invaluable scientific data about Korean people and society in history. In fact, amazingly well preserved mummies became one of the best subjects from which we could obtain the information of health and disease status of Joseon people. However, as for the exact mechanism of mummification, Joseon mummy is quite different from the other naturally or artificially mummified ones.  Rather, Korean mummies are formed by unique sociocultural factor: the formation of Joseon tombs with lime-soil mixture barrier.
Recent reports about mummies in China, those of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, might also be of similar origin from cultural perspective. Constructing the tombs in accordance with neo-confucianist axioms might have been the socio-cultural background of mummification commonly shared by Korea and China in history. Actually, the people of both countries did not hope to make their ancestors mummified at all. Constructing the lime-soil mixture barrier around the coffin was to protect the infiltration of insects, plant roots or robbery into the tombs. However, unexpectedly enough, their ancestors were mummified in the tombs by so far unknown mechanism and thus discovered by archaeologists after several hundred years of burial. Natural mummification affected by sociocultural factor: this was the possible cause of mummification observed accidently in some of the pre-modern tombs of East Asian countries.

>> Current Trends of Paleoparasitology in Korean Mummy Studies 

> Chang Seok Oh, Min Seoc, Ho Chul Ki, Jong-Yil Chai, and Dong Hoon Shin 

Bioanthropology and Paleopathology Lab 
Department of Parasitology and Tropical Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, South Korea 
Department of Parasitology, Dankook University, Chonan, South Korea 

Paleoparasitology reveals the prevalence of each parasite infection of the past, by examination on the samples from archaeological sites. Especially as for coprolites obtained from Korean mummy, as its preservation status was quite good for parasitological analysis, invaluable information about the parasitism in history could be accumulated. Briefly, microscopic examination confirmed the presence of parasite eggs in Korean mummy’s coprolites, by which we estimate the infection prevalence of specific parasitism among pre-modern Korean people. Using ancient DNA technique, we can reconstruct each parasite’s phylogenetic trees from a historical perspective. The sociocultural background of the parasitism in pre-modern Korean society was also studied lately. By intense collaboration with historians who know much about what was going on the health and disease status in pre-modern society, we tried to make a hypothesis about the presumptive route of ancient parasite infection in Korea, especially on Ascaris, Trichuris, Clonorchis, Metagonimus, Paragonimus, and Taenia spp. By such interdisciplinary collaboration between different research fields, we can get invaluable academic clues for comprehending ancient parasitism in pre-modern Korean history. 

>> Joseon Textiles from Korean Mummies

> Mi Kyung Song and Dong Hoon Shin

Department of Clothing Science, Seoul Women’s University, Seoul, South Korea
Bioanthropology and Paleopathology Lab, Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University College of Medicine, South Korea

 Mummies from the Joseon Dynasty (AD 1392-1910) are an invaluable subject for scientific studies on the health and diseases of pre-modern Korean people. However, for the past several decades textile investigation has also become an important part of mummy studies in South Korea, as both clothing and mummies are discovered simultaneously in the same Joseon tombs. Whenever archaeologists examined the Korean mummies, they discovered perfectly preserved, magnificent centuries-old textiles and garments. Since the first archaeological report on the clothing from the Joseon tomb discovered in 1964, the resultant documentation has grown into one of the most impressive academic collections in the cultural heritage of South Korea. Removal of the clothing was undertaken under strict, sterile laboratory conditions and each step documented since 2006. By studying these cases, scholars can trace detailed changes in the fashion of Joseon clothing that otherwise might not have been revealed to modern observers. Based upon the acquired data, the clothing currently displayed in museums and institutes could be repaired successfully and maintained meticulously. In this paper, we will present a scholarly reconstruction of a vivid glimpse into the lives and funerary rites of the Joseon Dynasty elite, based on examination of the academic works of the textile historians.


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