Sunday, July 31, 2016

Study on Zeleny Yar mummy-. Siberia, Russia federation begins-.

Project Description

There have been a number of studies on the pre-modern Siberia. Although the pioneering researches provided impressive information to understand the people and society of the region, we admit that there are still many things remain shrouded in mystery 
from the biological and anthropological aspects. Our project on the Salekhard mummies, under the international collaboration with the Institute for Problems of the Development of the North (Russia) is therefore important. By the proposed research and various techniques entailed on the mummies discovered from the cemetery of Salekhard, a full and very detailed biological and anthropological picture of the pre-modern Siberian people can be obtained. 



The Salekhard is the administrative center of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Russia. The mummies (n=3) were discovered from the cemetery (66°19'47.93"С; 67°31'59.83"В80) kilometers apart from Salekhard. They are currently maintained in Salekhard museum. This summer, new excavation will be done on the same site. 


We stayed in Salekhard for July 10 to July 15, 2016. During this period, we got the samples from the mummies. We got the samples from those of 2016 (newly discovered one if any) and of three mummies previously discovered. 


Our research will be mainly focused upon the anthropological studies on the mummies maintained in Salekhard. We have interest in the newly discovered mummies of this year. However, if it could be possible, we hope to get the samples from the mummies that were discovered before as well. The samples will be collected via a procedure specifically designed to make more accurate analysis of archaeological science. 

As anthropology specialists, our team hoped to participate in the excavation this year. However, regretfully enough, we have the schedule during excavation period, so we have to skip the archaeological excavation, and will go to the Salekhard museum for July 10 to July 15, 2016. Below are our suggestions for collaborative study. If you do not hope to include followings in our list of collaboration, please let me know. Please see below.

Gross Anthropological Study: Fundamental morphometric data could be obtained from the mummies. Stature, sex, age at death and cephalic index can be estimated by measurements or findings of the examination. The pathological lesions still remained will be macroscopically examined as well. No sampling is needed. 

Paleoparasitological Study: This is the application of conventional or molecular investigative techniques to archeological samples in order to reveal parasitic infection patterns among mummies. I know that Dr. Sergey Sepchenko have done excellent work on paleoparasitology. So, I truly understand that we must collaborate with him about what would be done on the parasitology samples. For microscopic examination, the samples will be rehydrated, filtered, and observed by light microscope. For ancient DNA analysis of parasites, DNA will be extracted, purified, and then amplified by PCR technique. By analysis of the ancient DNA sequence, we can know the genetic lineage of ancient parasitism. The sample must be the coprolites taken from the mummies.

Ancient DNA (aDNA) Analysis: In general, DNA analysis has been used to investigate the genetic affiliations of the ancient subjects from archaeological sites, for clarifying their origin or the ancestor–descendant relationships between them and the present-day counterparts. For this, the mummified samples will be pulverized to a fine powder using a Freezer/Mill machine. DNA is extracted, purified, and then amplified by PCR technique. By analysis of the mitochondrial DNA sequence, we can know the maternal lineage of the samples. Sampling: any part of mummy samples could be used even though we prefer well-preserved part of samples. Especially the parts that could not be touched by unidentified people could be preferred for much authentic study. 

Stable Isotope Analysis: This technique reveals the diets of human populations in history. For studying carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratio, collagen is extracted from archaeologically obtained mummy parts. Using the collagen, content and isotope ratios of C and N can be determined using a continuous-flow stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer linked with a CN analyzer. Carbon and nitrogen isotope compositions (δ13C and δ15N) can be calculated by the analysis. Sampling: we could make an analysis with any part of mummified tissue. 

Craniofacial Reconstruction (CFR): This is a technique used to rebuild the living facial appearance onto a skull in order to recognize or identify an individual in history. First, the mummies will be scanned using a Computed Tomography (CT). Skull re-assembly and the CFR from the reconstructed skull would be done by computerized 3D modeling system. As for the average depths of facial soft tissue, a dataset of living people will be utilized. Each major facial muscle will be re-built based upon a databank of pre-modeled facial muscles made by Wilkinson (2003). At the final stage, a skin layer will be added over the muscle and skull structure referring to the facial anatomy, musculature and tissue depth guides by utilizing transparency tools in the FreeForm software. The CFR will be illustrated to visualize and rebuild the complete appearance of the individual, applying 3D computer graphic technology to create skin texture, hairstyle and clothing. No sampling is needed. Just CT must be taking.

Histological Study: We can know the preservation pattern of mummy by histological studies on them. The samples for this analysis are skin, muscle, bone, hair, and internal organs of any part (heart, intestine etc.).

Snapshots during my visit to Russia, for collaboration with my friend Sergey Slepchenko, the archaeological scientist-surgeon in Institute of Northern Development, Russia.

14 hours of travel on Trans-Siberian Railway (Tyumen to Novosibrisk)

Report of our collaboration by Siberian Times.

Report of our collaboration on local TV. 

Report of our collaboration on Siberian Times. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Anthropological Study on the Bones of Rakhigarhi

Fundamental anthropological study on the bones of Rakhigarhi begins at Deccan College. 

Taking the photos

Dr. Vasant Shinde and students. Kim YJ (the leftmost) and Woo EJ (the second from the right) can be seen. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Symposium 8: Mummies and textiles (Aug 11, 2016)

10-13 AUGUST 2016  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Symposium 8: Mummies and textiles

Chairs: Jana Jones, Dong Hoon Shin, James M. Vreeland Jr. 
Time: 9:10 am - 3:30 pm
Ejecutivo II Room, 1st floor

Chaired by James Vreeland, Jr. 

(1) 9:10 James M. Vreeland, Jr.: Peruvian pre-Hispanic mummy bundles from the central coast: specialization in production techniques with naturally pigmented native cotton.

(5) 9:30 Ann H. Peters: Reconstructing mortuary traditions at the necropolis of Wari Kayan in early Nasca times: Established ritual and new practices. 

(6) 9:50 Milosz Giersz, Patrycja Przadka Giersz, Wieslaw Wieckowski, Krzysztof Makowski: Wari imperial funerary customs and rituals: pre-Hispanic necropolis at Castillo de Huarmey. 

(8) 10:10 Gioconda Arabel Fernández López: Gender, social status and power seen through the textiles of the bundle of the Lady of Cao. 

(9) 10:30 Patricia Landa Cragg: Types of textiles found in the late funerary bundles of the Peruvian central coast. 


Chaired by Dong Hoon Shin 

(3) 11:20 Dong Hoon Shin, Mi Kyung Song: Joseon textiles from Korean mummies. 

(4) 11:40 Roberta Cortopassi: Two Byzantine period mummies from Egypt in French museums.

(10) 11:40 Carter Lupton, Jonathan Elias, Sabina Malgora: Good things in small packages: differential inclusions and cloth replicas in Egyptian Mummies.  

(11) 12:00 Lidija M. McKnight: ‘Re-rolling’ a mummy: an experimental spectacle. 

(12) 12:20 Cinzia Oliva, Laure Cadot, Rosa Boano,  Matilde Borla: A lady from Deir el-Medina: a case study of multidisciplinary conservation program. 


12:40  LUNCH  


(1) Textiles associated with Peruvian prehispanic mummy bundles from the Central coast: specialization in production techniques with naturally pigmented native cotton

James M. Vreeland Jr.

Founding member, Patronato del Patrimonio de la Salud, Lima, Perú

The peculiar characteristics of the Peruvian central coast desert ensure an ideal environment for conserving both naturally and artificially mummified bodies. This paper summarizes for the first time research conducted in the 1970s at the Peruvian National Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, on a half dozen prehispanic mummy bundles recovered from looted cemeteries along the central coast, between the Huaura Valley to the north and the Ica Valley to the south of Lima.
Initial direct and microscopic observations revealed unique information on the fibers employed, bundle construction methods, spinning and weaving techniques used. The unadorned, plain weave shrouds woven from naturally pigmented cotton fibers, required hundreds of kilometers of hand spun yarn. Special looms of an upright configuration of a very robust nature appear to have been used, very different from those associated with fine woven and decorative textiles, employing dyed yarns usually spun from of camelid fibers.
Ethnohistoric and ethnographic investigation of traditional textile manufacture in the Andes conducted by the author and an interdisciplinary team during the following decades, provides new information on which to propose reasonable reconstructions of the textile techniques and production methods presumably employed centuries earlier when the bundles were created and interred. The survival of naturally pigmented native cotton among hand spinners and weavers today may be associated with the ritual uses of the fiber in prehispanic times.
The unique nature of the plain weave mortuary shrouds implies the use of craft technologies of a very complex nature, resembling a kind of pre-industrial craft specialization in mortuary textile production. The hygroscopic properties of the native cotton fibers, loosely spun, suggest intentional fabric constructions to wick away the autolytic body decomposition fluids, propitiating a rapid intentional desication in an anaerobic environment not conducive to the reproduction of insect pests usually investing the bodies during the interment process. The scientific opening of additional bundles is needed to further elucidate the nature of specializations in the manufacture of mortuary shrouds not found in any other prehispanic context.

(5) Reconstructing mortuary traditions at the necropolis of Wari Kayan in early Nasca times: Established ritual and new practices.

Ann H. Peters
American Section, Penn Museum

Reconstructing mortuary traditions at the necropolis of Wari Kayan in early Nasca times: established ritual and new practices.
A cemetery area can include more than one mortuary tradition, as well as tombs from different historic periods. Comparisons in the structure and content of mortuary bundles in the Paracas Necropolis assemblage from the Wari Kayan cemetery areas indicates changes over time associated with different artifact styles. Burials associated with artifact assemblages related in style, technique and imagery to early Nasca are interspersed with earlier mortuary assemblages in both sectors A and B.  While most burials share key features of mortuary practice, significant changes in the artifact types included and in mortuary bundle construction are associated with the changes in artifact style.

Comparisons among mortuary contexts associated with artifacts in Nasca-related styles demonstrate regularities in practices of bundle construction as well as unusual forms and changes over time. Body arrangement and certain types of evidence for body preparation are also considered. Comparisons among textiles and other artifacts demonstrate several style groups, some of which appear to characterize polities on the northern margin of Nasca influence while others are closely linked to the core region.

(6) Wari imperial funerary customs and rituals: pre-Hispanic necropolis at Castillo de Huarmey.

Milosz Giersz (University of Warsaw), Patrycja Giersz-Przadka (University of Warsaw), Wieslaw Wieckowski (University of Warsaw), Krzysztof Makowski (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)

The recent discovery of the Wari royal mausoleum with the first untouched Wari elite women’s tomb at the Peruvian site of Castillo de Huarmey, renowned for the findings of fine tapestries, sheds new light on imperial funerary customs and mortuary architecture during the second part of the first millennium AD. The main chamber concealed 64 individuals accompanied by the most intimate and valuable personal effects: gold and silver jewelry, polychrome ceramics, tools representing each step of the textile technological process and remains of fine textiles. Each elite individual was buried wrapped in a bundle, parts of which were occasionally preserved. Remains of additional multiple naturally mummified individuals were found within the mausoleum perimeter. The preservation varies due to the postdepositional processes. The chamber was a first stage in the construction of an architectonical complex of the royal mausoleum, which later became a center of the necropolis, consisting of chullpas mausoleums, platforms, passages between them, and stairways. The purpose of this paper is to describe the context of this unique discovery, with the special attention to the role of textiles, and explain sophisticated funerary customs, and rituals in relation to the funerary architecture that served as the physical focus of Wari’s ancestor worship. Using a broad methodological spectrum, including bioarchaeological and biogeochemical analyses, archaeometry, 3D HDS scanning and architectural analysis, the Authors show how the new pan-Andean Wari funerary paradigm helped to facilitate inter-group relationships and new identities established and negotiated by imperial elites.  

(8) Gender, social status and power seen through the textiles of the bundle of “La Dama de Cao”

Arabel Fernández López
PACEB - Museo Cao (Fundación Augusto N. Wiese)

After the discovery of a very important Moche culture funerary bundle on the upper platform of “Huaca Cao Viejo” in “El Brujo” archaeological complex and due to the exceptional condition in which it was found, it was possible to make a detailed record of its conformation through their respective openings. The funerary bundle was wrapped with several layers of textiles, including many emblematic objects. Inside, was found a body of a young woman with extremely well preserved symbolic tattoos on her face, arms and feet. Both the place in which she was buried as the symbols of power and social status associated with her body, allowed us to propose that she was a woman with a crucial political, social and religious role in Moche society. Today she is known as “La Dama de Cao”
According to our investigation, the textiles of the “Dama de Cao” bundle were manufactured specifically for mortuary purposes, others were part of the dress and others had symbolic purposes. In this document, I will describe the funerary bundle opening, especially the technical and structural characteristics of the textiles with its economic and social implications. Furthermore, I will describe the funerary offerings as textile instruments and raw materials. Finally, with the supporting evidence we are going to develop the relationship between the textile profession, gender and power.

(9) Types of textiles found in the late funerary bundles of the peruvian central coast

Landa Cragg 
Conservadora independiente

Textiles in ancient Peru were specially valued; used as symbol of power they kept their importance even after the death of the individuals that owned them. They are especially important in the construction of funerary bundles as they constitute more than 80% of the elements that form the funerary package.
Textiles of 29 funerary bundles (20 adults and 9 children) from five sites of the Peruvian Central Coast (especially from the Late Periods of the Rimac and Lurin Valleys) where analyzed and compared. The variables used included position relative to the body, fibers (type, twist, width), textile techniques and evidence of use.
From our analysis we can distinguish three groups of textiles:
1) Funerary textiles, specially made to be part of the bundle layers
2) Reused textiles, textiles that show evidence of previous use and that have been transformed to be part of the bundle
3) Textiles specially made to be part of the funerary offerings of the individual
This study shows that funerary contexts (besides helping us to determine identity) give information about the recurrence in the use of certain textiles. The identification of these recurring textiles can help us to understand funerary contexts even if we deal with groups of disturbed textiles.

(3) Joseon Textiles from Korean Mummies 

Dong Hoon Shin & Mi Kyung Song 
Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul National University College of Medicine, South Korea 
Department of Clothing Science, Seoul Women’s University, Seoul, 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.

(4) Two Byzantine Period mummies from Egypt in French museums

Roberta Cortopassi 

Conservateur du patrimoine, la filière Arts décoratifs département Restauration C2RMF, Paris, France

The French archaeologist Albert Gayet excavated the Roman-Byzantine city of Antinoopoulis in Middle Egypt from 1895 to 1911. He sent back to France a huge amount of artefacts, ceramics, woods, textiles and some burials. The material was first presented to the public in temporary exhibitions in Paris and then dispersed among French and European museums or private collections.
Approximately thirty complete mummies are still kept in museum collections in France. Those dating to the Roman period were prepared according to Pharaonic tradition. Some are wrapped in painted shrouds typical of the production of the city; others have a painted portrait on a wooden panel laid over the face, the so-called ‘Fayum portraits’. 
The mummies that date to the Byzantine period are fully dressed in everyday clothes and have undergone mummification by natural means, without any human intervention. A team of specialists studied two of these female burials in detail.  Analyses included radiocarbon dating (giving a date of 6th-7th century AD) and CT scanning. This paper will focus on the study of clothing and other textiles from the burials.

(10) Good Things in Small Packages: Differential Inclusions and Cloth Replicas in Egyptian Mummies

Lupton, Jonathan Elias & Sabina Malgora 
Milwaukee Public Museum | Akhmim Mummy Studies Consortium | Mummy Project - Milan

In a series of CT projects on Egyptian mummies of several different periods, medium density inclusions of textile matter have been identified.  Differential inclusion (DI) is proposed as an analytical term to describe these objects to distinguish them from the wrappings which surround them. Their presence reflects behavior which is deliberate, patterned, and ritually expressive.  Despite their rather clear boundaries, such inclusions are frequently overlooked.
Some differential inclusions have distinctive globular shapes found individually or in groups within the bandages, and sometimes within visceral packets. Other DIs belong to rather elaborate constructions of fabric and fibrous cordage. In many cases, they are detectable in axial, sagittal and coronal CT image aspects as if they were carefully positioned. In some cases they can be characterized as ritual accoutrements (amuletic wrapping features) placed on the body at a critical point in the wrapping process. In this way they are sandwiched within the textile layers comprising the mummy bundle. The existence of such accoutrements (and their relationship to amulets) was noted by Andrzej Niwinski during the disassembly of a damaged mummy from the northern Middle Egypt site of el-Gamhud, (Archeological Museum in Cracow). He felt that these objects, which he termed “cloth replicas” in a 1998 article, were rather atypical. Here we present CT evidence of similar objects on the legs of the Saite Period mummy of Djed-hor  (Milwaukee Public Museum  10264). We examine the occurrence of other inclusions in mummies of different periods from the Fayum, Akhmim, and Thebes.  We further suggest that the frequency of cloth replicas, amuletic wrapping features, and other differential inclusions is greater than Niwinski originally suspected, and propose a methodology to aid in their identification.

(11) ‘Re-rolling’ a mummy: an experimental spectacle

M. McKnight 
University of Manchester

The use of textiles as wrapping materials in ancient Egypt was a fundamental element in the ritual transformation of preserved human and animal bodies. Textiles, namely linen, effectively concealed the contents of mummy bundles and disguised the nature of bronze and stone statuettes, making them capable of crossing the boundary between earthly life and the divine. Many artefacts received a complex wrapping treatment with elaborate decoration visible by eye. The application of CT (computed tomography) to wrapped mummy bundles has yielded a wealth of information on the internal construction methods employed.
Due to the nature of early excavation and recording techniques, many artefacts were unwrapped on site, losing much of their original context. In addition, the unwrapping of human mummies became a popular pastime for socialites and philanthropists during the nineteenth-century when numerous reported mummy ‘un-rollings’ were performed.
Current research conducted for the Ancient Egyptian Animal Bio Bank project sought to address the question ‘how easy (or difficult) is it to wrap a mummy?’ The project combines experimental mummification of bird cadavers with evidence obtained from the radiographic study of ancient mummies to suggest how the ancient embalmers might have operated. Attempts at corporeal preservation continue to be largely successful despite the climatic variations between Egypt and Manchester and efforts have now been directed towards the replication of wrapping techniques. Combining the expertise of textile specialists, conservators and artists, a public mummy ‘re-rolling’ was held at Manchester Museum marking the anniversary of the unwrapping of Mummy 1770 some forty years earlier.

(12) A lady from Deir el-Medina (west bank of Thebes-Egypt): case study of a multidisciplinary conservation program.

Cinzia Oliva, textile conservator, Turin
Laure Cadot, Conservation-restauration d’objets ethnographiques et archéologie égyptienne, Montpellier
RosaBoano, Anthropologist, Università degli Studi di Torino, Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e Biologia dei Sistemi 
Matilde Borla, Egyptologist, Soprintendenza per l’Archeologia del Piemonte

The conservation treatment carried out on the mummy and coffin S. 7715 (XXI Dynasty 990-970 BC) is part of the conservation program launched by the Fondazione Museo delle Antichità Egizie di Torino for the new Museo Egizio. According to ICOM code of ethics all the conservation treatments were based on the “minimal treatment” principle.
The mummy was in a very advanced state of decay, of both the fibers in the bandages and shrouds and in the anatomical structure of the body. The weakening of the fibers allowed the partial protrusion of bones and organic material, which in turn compromised the general structure of the mummy. A hole in the front of the head exposed the skull.  X-rays showed a very dismantled skeleton, especially in the thoracic area. 
In order to check the back of the mummy, the body was turned over using a special tailor-made shell (made by Marco Samadelli, European Academy/Bolzano). Cadot then proceeded with the conservation of human remains: all the bones of the skull, thoracic cavity and pelvis were removed and documented. Then the reconstruction of the skull as well as the thoracic bones was carried out. These were reorganized into their anatomical position on a conservation support and replaced in the cavity. Internal supports were built to fill gaps and reconstruct the original shape of the body. Once the textile wrappings on the back were replaced, the mummy was turned over to the front. It was then wrapped in a net that had been dyed to match the color underneath, and attached with linen ribbons. 
Anthropological examination was carried out in order to assess age at death and sex. Direct observations, supported by radiological images, showed that the body belonged to a young woman aged 20 to 30 years.

Symposium 14: From autopsy to diagnostic imaging and metagenomics: guidelines, levels of evidence and medical data (Aug 12, 2016)

10-13 AUGUST 2016  

Friday, August 12, 2016

Symposium 14: From autopsy to diagnostic imaging and metagenomics: guidelines, levels of evidence and medical data

Chairs: Frank J. Rühli, Raffaella Bianucci, Dong Hoon Shin
Time: 9:10 am - 1:00 pm
Empresarial Room, 2nd floor

(1) 9:10 Stephanie Zesch, Stephanie Panzer, Thomas Henzler, Stefan O. Schoenberg, Wilfried Rosendahl: From first to latest imaging technology - revisiting the first mummy investigated with X-rays in1896 by using dual-energy computed tomography. (Not confirmed)

(2) 9:30 Frank Rühli, Francesco Galassi, Lena Oehrstroem: Diagnostic imaging of ancient human mummies: Experiences at the Swiss Mummy Project. (Presented by Roger Seiler) (confirmed)

(3) 9:50 Niels Lynnerup, Chiara Villa: Evolution of methods: 30 years of researching the Greenland mummies. (confirmed)

(4) 10:10 Roger Seiler, Frank Rühli: Conventional radiography of ancient Egyptian mummy heads. A report of personal experiences (confirmed).


(5) 11:00 Abigail Bouwman, Michael Habicht, Frank Rühli: Preliminary results from the Canopic Jar Project (confirmed).

(6) 11:20 Sahar Saleem, Zahi Hawass: Computed Tomography (CT) studies of the Royal Egyptian Mummies of the New Kingdom (confirmed)

(8) 11:40 Robert Loynes: Mummification/embalming methods in the Roman period (confirmed).

12:00  Discussion


(4) Conventional radiography of ancient Egyptian mummy heads. A report of personal experiences.

Roger Seiler, Frank Rühli

University of Zurich

In the time of the CT scans with their outstanding imaging possibilities, one can forget that conventional radiography has its place in the study of Egyptian mummies. We will report our experiences in the application of a digital, portable X-ray unit in the field. For better understanding, background into the history and development of radiography in Mummy research will be presented, standard types of radiological projections used in skull investigations and how these protocols are modified to the special needs of mummy heads will be discussed. Examples of X-ray images of Egyptian mummy heads will demonstrate the ongoing possibilities of conventional radiography, but also its limits. The two-dimensional imaging of the skull with its complex three-dimensional structures, through the so-called “anatomical noise”, offers particular interpretational difficulties. On the other hand, it must be remembered that under adverse conditions and in unusual places, such as burial chambers or in a museum, X-ray is the only possibility to obtain internal images and so to fully investigate mummies. Therefore, we will discuss the taking of conventional X-rays of dentitions, jaws and the skull base. Of special interest to us are the characteristic defects in the context of the excerebration or mummification. Comparisons with CT scans will allow us to reassess the conventional, two-dimensional X-ray images.

(5) Preliminary results from the Canopic Jar Project.

Abigail Bouwman, Michael Habicht, Frank Rühli

University of Zurich

The Canopic Jar Project is an SNF funded project that is examining a larger series of ancient Egyptian human soft tissues samples in a truly interdisciplinary research setting (medical, genetic, chemical and Egyptological) from canopic jars and bundles in European and American museum collections.

The project is macroscopically, radiographically, chemically and genetically studying canopics to investigate the contents. All canopics are studied with X-ray and, where possible, by CT-scan, in order to investigate the contents prior to sampling.

Samples which are extracted from the canopics undergo; 1) histological examination – to identify the organ interred, assess the preservation of the sample and identify any pathological tissue, 2) molecular examination – to assess DNA preservation, identify the individual, examine the genetic relationship between pathogens and hosts, assess co-infection and investigate ancient microbiomes, and 3) chemical analysis – to identify the components used in the embalming process.

This presentation will concentrate on the first genetic data from the study. Although the material is heavily degraded by both time and the chemical preservation of the organs, DNA can be extracted and subjected to analysis. We have recovered mitochrondrial and autosomal DNA by traditional methods. The initial genetic data will be discussed within the context of the radiological, morphological, and chemical data.


Robert Loynes

 The University of Manchester, KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology

Examination of the CT scans of thirty human mummies from the Roman Period reveals that there are common features (indicating deliberate intent) distinguishing them from mummies of other eras.  This is in contrast to the view taken by authors such as Ikram & Dodson, David and Aufterheide (Ikram S. & Dodson A., 1998:129), (David.A.R., 2002: 337) &( Aufterheide A.C., 2003: 248) that mummification techniques in this era may have become more casual and random , accompanying the increase in the attention paid to and the sophistication of the external appearance of these artifacts.

There is a definite repetition of the techniques applied to the rib cage resulting in distortion and compression of this anatomical region in many cases accompanied by damage to the integrity of the rib cage/spine continuum.  There are certain notable deviations from these observed techniques but these may well be explained when the external characteristics– that is the wrapping techniques – or age at death of the individual are taken into account.  The cohort splits well into those with Red Shrouds, those with all four limbs wrapped separately and those with neither of these characteristics.

Although this phenomenon has been described previously (Loynes R, 2014: 231-3) the increased cohort size – to thirty – makes the observations and interpretation more robust whilst not altering the original proposition.

Symposium 7: Ancient bodies: the interplay between ancient culture, spiritual beliefs and mummification (Aug 11, 2016)

10-13 AUGUST 2016  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Symposium 7: Ancient bodies: the interplay between ancient culture, spiritual beliefs and mummification

Chairs: Raffaella Bianucci, Despina Moissidou, Dong Hoon Shin, Jane Buikstra
Time: 9:10 am - 1:00 pm
Empresarial Room, 2nd floor 

Before_the_Break_Session: Chaired by Jane Buikstra

Niels Lynnerup: Experiences from the Greenland mummies.

Guido P. Lombardi: What do Peruvian mummies tell us about our ancestors' spiritual beliefs? A chronological overview.

Amelie Alterauge, Peter Weber, Matthias Friske, Manfred Baron von Crailsheim, Wilfried Rosendahl, Natalia Shved, Sandra Lösch: Naming the dead: an interdisciplinary study on human mummified remains from 17th to 19th century crypts in Germany.

Dario Piombino-Mascali: Spontaneous and anthropogenic mummification methods in Sicily (1600-1900).

Coffee Break 

After_the_Break_Session: Chaired by Dong Hoon Shin

Jane A Hill: Predynastic: Egyptian religious practice: a case study in early mummification.

Iwona Kozieradzka-Ogunmakin: Looks can be deceiving: fake and composite mummies from a Ptolemaic Period cemetery at Saqqara.

Dong Hoon Shin, Mi Kyung Song, Ho Chul Ki: A neo-Confucian concept for world after death and accidental mummification in east Asia.

Kathleen Day: Unangax mummies as whalers: a multidisciplinary contextualization of human mummification in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska (Cancelled)

Ulla Lohmann, Ronald Beckett, Andrew Nelson, Dario Piombino-Mascali, Victoria Lywood: See the face: a living history of the cultural/spiritual implications of mummification practices among the Ibaloy of the Kabayan region of the Philippines and the Anga of Papua New Guinea.




(3) What do Peruvian Mummies tell us about our Ancestors' Spiritual Beliefs? A Chronological Overview

Guido P. Lombardi

One of the common elements that unite human cultures is death. All cultures have honored their deceased ones with ceremonies and rites, sometimes extremely complicated and enduring. The Andes has been no exception. Andean South America shows extraordinarily preserved bioarchaeological remains, mostly due to natural conditions. Nevertheless, the reasons for the rise of mummification practices and their background is basically unknown due to the lack of any written records to back the evolution of the natives’ treatment of the dead and their religious beliefs.

South American archaeology, axis of any approach to local past, meeting the challenge, has devised several contrasting ‘cultural horizons’ that show material evidence of ideological changes in specific moments of local prehistory. The significance and origin of these changes, at the center of Andean archaeology theory, provide a framework to organize an evolution of the cultural treatment of the dead over the millennia in this region.

This paper synthesizes information gathered from different sources aiming at presenting a model to show the chronological evolution of local belief systems upon which mummies and mummy - making played, almost constantly, a central role.

The author also presents the hypothetical ways of body disposal, including mummy cremation on specialized structures, as transient practices in the late preceramic period, which could explain the lack of formal cemeteries and human remains in or around their known settlements.

(4) Naming the dead: An interdisciplinary study on human mummified remains from 17th to 19th century crypts in Germany

Amelie Alterauge1,2, Peter Weber3, Matthias Friske4, Manfred Baron von Crailsheim5, Wilfried Rosendahl6, Natalia Shved7, Sandra Lösch1

1Institute of Forensic Medicine, Department of Physical Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland 
2Institute for Pre- and Protohistory and Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Heidelberg, Germany
3Friends of St. Nicolaus Church Nedlitz, Germany
4St. Catherine’s Church Salzwedel, Germany
5Sommersdorf Castle, Burgoberbach, Germany
6Reiss-Engelhorn-Museums Mannheim, Germany
7Institute of Evolutionary Medicine, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Church vaults were used as burial places by local noble families or tenants in rural areas between the 16th and the 19th century AD in Central Europe. Due to environmental conditions, the inventory of a crypt is often preserved, including coffins, fabrics, botanical and human remains. The large number of mummies stored in these crypts represents a unique opportunity to investigate the living conditions, diseases and funeral customs of this period. 
In this study, four crypts from Germany dating to the 17th to 19th century AD are investigated: St. Nicolaus Church in Nedlitz, St. Catherine’s Church in Salzwedel, Sommersdorf Castle, and the Church of the Assumption in Illereichen. In total, 36 coffins and 28 mummies in different preservation states can be analysed. 
The first aim is to identify the entombed persons by evaluating the historical, archaeological, anthropological and molecular records. The second aim is to evaluate the influence of burial rites on the preservation of the bodies. 
Archival records and church registers were studied to detect name, ancestry, occupation, date of birth and death and burial site of the individuals. The coffins were inspected and dated by typo-chronological comparisons. The clothes were examined regarding style, sex specificity and chronological era.  Anthropological data for 21 individuals had to rely on in situ examinations or on photographs. A profound scientific examination, including molecular analyses and computed tomography (CT), was performed on seven mummies. Age, sex, body height and pathological alterations were determined. 
All investigated individuals are naturally mummified. Most of them were entombed within three days after death. Constant dry airflow was the main factor for mummification through desiccation. However, absorbent materials and plants played an important role in delaying the decomposition and in covering decay scent. 
At the current state of research it seems unclear to what extent such preservative conditions were intentionally produced or developed as an unintended (though accepted) consequence of crypt-burial.

(5) Spontaneous and Anthropogenic Mummification Methods in Sicily (1600-1900) 

Dario Piombino-Mascali (1-2)

1) Department of Cultural Heritage and of Sicilian Identity, Palermo, Italy
2) Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania

The island of Sicily is home to a large number of mummified remains, dating from the 16th-20th centuries of the current era, most of which are located in the renowned Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo. There, the oldest mummy is that of Brother Silvestro da Gubbio, who died in 1599, but recent 20th century examples, including the popular ‘sleeping beauty’ Rosalia Lombardo, are present. Beyond the Palermo Catacombs, other important mummy collections include those at Savoca, Piraino, Gangi, Santa Lucia del Mela, Novara and Burgio. Since 2007, the author of this paper has headed the “Sicily Mummy Project”, aimed at scientifically investigating this important bio-cultural heritage and understanding local mummification practices. In this context, historical sources were also collected in order to gain a deeper view on the mummification phenomenon, its roots, and its significance. This overview will summarize the techniques of bodily preservation employed to obtain mummies, together with the related archaeological structures located in crypts and subterranean chapels. Findings will be supported by radiological and computer tomographic data which enabled direct inspection and gathering of an amount of bio-anthropological data; and will be additionally supplemented by archival sources and hitherto unpublished evidence describing in detail how cadavers were treated in order to be preserved. This study will shed new light on mortuary practices and funeral variability in the region, as well as provide examples on the excellent embalming skills achieved in the 19th and 20th centuries. An interpretative pattern will be provided, through comparison with the anthropological and sociological literature.

(6) Predynastic Egyptian Religious Practice: A Case study in Early Mummification. 

HILL, Jane A

Rowan University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Glassboro, NJ, United States Presenting author: 

As part of a detailed study of the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Predynastic Egyptian collection, an unprovenanced flexed bundle burial (E 16229) has been analyzed and conserved (Hill & Rosado, forthcoming). The initial study, as well as revealing osteological and paleopathological information about the deceased male, uncovered some of the most complete evidence to date of artificial mummification procedures developed in Egypt’s prehistory. Radiocarbon dating and linen weaving techniques indicate this mummy dates to the Naqada IA to Naqada IIB periods (Dee et. al., Table 1; Hendrickx 2006: 92, Table 2; Jones 2008) or 3760- 3640 BC. While some of the burial practices recorded with this body are well documented from earlier studies of Predynastic cemeteries – the use of multiple types of linen wrappings, basketry, woven matting and animal skin coverings – other features are indicative of a more complex ritual treatment of the body, perhaps indicative of rituals meant to effect a spiritual transformation as well as bodily preservation. These features include removal of the internal organs to be replaced with padding in the abdominal cavity, painting of the shroud with red pigment, and special treatment of linen wrappings with preservative resins. Also, there is evidence of the body being packaged in a manner that would make its transportation possible. Practices encoded in the mummy reveal interesting parallels with Egypt’s first preserved descriptions of mortuary ritual found in the Pyramid Texts. Taken with the growing evidence of ritualized treatment and mummification of the dead in the early Naqada period in Upper Egypt (Jones, et al 2014; Friedman & Maish 1999; Friedman, et al 2002) the implications for the study of the development of Upper Egyptian religion and ritual practice are discussed. 

(7) Looks can be deceiving: Fake and composite mummies from a Ptolemaic Period cemetery at Saqqara

Iwona J. Kozieradzka-Ogunmakin

KNH Centre for Biomedical Egyptology,
University of Manchester, UK

Disposing of the dead in ancient Egypt was a highly ritualised and complex process instigated by religious beliefs that promised eternal life to those who could satisfy a number of specific requirements. The most important of these requirements was the preservation of the body. But what if there was no body to bury or the body itself was, for some reason, incomplete? 
A Ptolemaic Period cemetery extending westwards to the Step Pyramid enclosure at Saqqara has yielded more than five hundred burials since excavations began in 1996, among which were four suspicious-looking mummies. Detailed examination of these inhumations delivered surprising findings: the wrappings of one of the mummies (B. 519) contained no more than a few bone fragments commingled with scraps of textile and other materials associated with the mummification process, whereas the other three mummies (B. 415, B. 627 and B. 639) were composed of skeletal elements that belonged to more than one individual.
The finding of composite mummies at Saqqara is not unique to ancient Egypt; evidence of this practice has been reported from other burial sites of the Greaco-Roman Period, including Hawara in the Fayum Oasis and Ismant el-Kharab in the Dakhla Oasis. 
In this presentation I will explore the purposes and circumstances for making fake and composite mummies at Saqqara.

(8) 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 (; **Department of Clothing Science, Seoul Women’s University, Seoul, South Korea (

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.

(9) See the face: A living history of the cultural/spiritual implications of mummification practices among the Ibaloy of the Kabayan region of the Philippines and the Anga of Papua New Guinea.  

Ronald Beckett - Bioanthropology Research Institute, Quinnipiac University

The Anga of Papua New Guinea have practiced smoked body mummification for as long as collective memories can recall. Mummification is reserved for those individuals and families who have distinguished themselves in life. In the traditional view, the smoked body practice allows the living to remain connected to their dead. In the past, there has been no after-life construct associated with the dead, however, without the physical connection spirits may ‘circulate’ and become mischievous. An element in this connection appears to be the ability to ‘see the face’. The smoked bodies protect the village by marking territories. Western missionaries have assimilated many Anga into Western after-life belief systems that challenge the traditional practice of mummification. Burials in coffins are now common, yet due to cultural myths associated with ground burials, some elders hope to reestablish the smoked-body tradition.  In August of 2015, clan leader of Koke village in the Aseki region, Gemtasu, got his final wish and was mummified according to the smoked-body tradition representing the first known cultural mummification in modern times. The smoked-body tradition currently has several cultural implications on a continuum ranging from traditional constructs to one of mummy tourism,  
The Ibaloy of the Kabayan Region of Luzon, Philippines mummified their respected deceased with elaborate ritual and method. Once completed, the mummies were placed within caves in sacred mountains where they are respected as if living. Rituals surround visits to the caves suggesting ancestral respect and a demonstration of the traditional views of the Ibaloy. The ‘spirits’ can become displeased if rituals are not followed causing calamities that afflict a village. The mummified remains provide a cultural identity for the Ibaloy as well as a means of providing income through mummy tourism.