EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman

Bolzano, Italy

EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman

Bolzano, Italy
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Panzer S.,Paracelsus Medical University | Pernter P.,Central Hospital | Piombino-Mascali D.,Vilnius University | Jankauskas R.,Vilnius University | And 4 more authors.
RoFo Fortschritte auf dem Gebiet der Rontgenstrahlen und der Bildgebenden Verfahren | Year: 2017

Purpose Soft tissues make a skeleton into a mummy and they allow for a diagnosis beyond osteology. Following the approach of structured reporting in clinical radiology, a recently developed checklist was used to evaluate the soft tissue preservation status of the Tyrolean Iceman using computed tomography (CT). The purpose of this study was to apply the “Checklist and Scoring System for the Assessment of Soft Tissue Preservation in CT Examinations of Human Mummies” to the Tyrolean Iceman, and to compare the Iceman’s soft tissue preservation score to the scores calculated for other mummies. Materials and Methods A whole-body (CT) (SOMATOM Definition Flash, Siemens, Forchheim, Germany) consisting of five scans, performed in January 2013 in the Department of Radiodiagnostics, Central Hospital, Bolzano, was used (slice thickness 0.6?mm; kilovolt ranging from 80 to 140). For standardized evaluation the “CT Checklist and Scoring System for the Assessment of Soft Tissue Preservation in Human Mummies” was used. Results All checkpoints under category “A. Soft Tissues of Head and Musculoskeletal System” and more than half in category “B. Organs and Organ Systems” were observed. The scoring system accounted for a total score of 153 (out of 200). The comparison of the scores between the Iceman and three mummy collections from Vilnius, Lithuania, and Palermo, Sicily, as well as one Egyptian mummy resulted in overall higher soft tissue preservation scores for the Iceman. Conclusion Application of the checklist allowed for standardized assessment and documentation of the Iceman’s soft tissue preservation status. The scoring system allowed for a quantitative comparison between the Iceman and other mummies. The Iceman showed remarkable soft tissue preservation. Key Points The approach of structured reporting can be transferred to paleoradiology. The checklist allowed for standardized soft tissue assessment and documentation. The scoring system facilitated a quantitative comparison among mummies. Based on CT, the Tyrolean Iceman demonstrated remarkable soft tissue preservation. Citation Format Panzer S, Pernter P, Piombino-Mascali D et?al. Checklist and Scoring System for the Assessment of Soft Tissue Preservation in CT Examinations of Human Mummies: Application to the Tyrolean Iceman. Fortschr Röntgenstr 2017; DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-116668 Copyright © 2017, Georg Thieme Verlag KG. All rights reserved.

Panzer S.,Trauma Center Murnau | Panzer S.,Institute of Biomechanics | Panzer S.,Paracelsus Medical University | Mc Coy M.R.,Paracelsus Medical University | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

The purpose of this study was to develop a checklist for standardized assessment of soft tissue preservation in human mummies based on whole-body computed tomography examinations, and to add a scoring system to facilitate quantitative comparison of mummies. Computed tomography examinations of 23 mummies from the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily (17 adults, 6 children; 17 anthropogenically and 6 naturally mummified) and 7 mummies from the crypt of the Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit of Vilnius, Lithuania (5 adults, 2 children; all naturally mummified) were used to develop the checklist following previously published guidelines. The scoring system was developed by assigning equal scores for checkpoints with equivalent quality. The checklist was evaluated by intra- and interobserver reliability. The finalized checklist was applied to compare the groups of anthropogenically and naturally mummified bodies. The finalized checklist contains 97 checkpoints and was divided into two main categories, "A. Soft Tissues of Head and Musculoskeletal System" and "B. Organs and Organ Systems", each including various subcategories. The complete checklist had an intra-observer reliability of 98% and an inter-observer reliability of 93%. Statistical comparison revealed significantly higher values in anthropogenically compared to naturally mummified bodies for the total score and for three subcategories. In conclusion, the developed checklist allows for a standardized assessment and documentation of soft tissue preservation in whole-body computed tomography examinations of human mummies. The scoring system facilitates a quantitative comparison of the soft tissue preservation status between single mummies or mummy collections. Copyright: © 2015 Panzer et al.

Panzer S.,Trauma Center Murnau | Piombino-Mascali D.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman | Zink A.R.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

Herniation pits (HPs) of the femoral neck were first described in a radiological publication in 1982 as round to oval radiolucencies in the proximal superior quadrant of the femoral neck on anteroposterior radiographs of adults. In following early clinical publications, HPs were generally recognized as an incidental finding. In contrast, in current clinical literature they are mentioned in the context of femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) of the hip joint, which is known to cause osteoarthritis (OA). The significance of HPs in chronic skeletal disorders such as OA is still unclear, but they are discussed as a possible radiological indicator for FAI in a large part of clinical studies. In this paleoradiological study we examined a sample of mummies from the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily, by a mobile computed tomography (CT) scanner. Evaluation of the CT examinations revealed HPs in six out of 16 (37.5%) adult male mummies. The first aim of this study was to compare the characteristics of HPs shown in our mummy collection to the findings described in clinical literature. Thereby CT evaluation revealed that their osseous imaging characteristics are in accordance, consisting of round to oval subcortical lesions at the anterior femoral neck, clearly demarcated by a sclerotic margin. The second aim was to introduce HPs to the paleoradiological and paleopathological methodology as an entity that underwent a renaissance from an incidental finding to a possible radiological indicator of FAI in the clinical situation. As FAI plays an important role in the development of OA of the hip, which is a very common finding in human skeletal remains, HPs should always be considered in paleoradiological evaluation of hip joint diseases. © 2012 Panzer et al.

Panzer S.,Trauma Center Murnau | Carli A.,University of Molise | Zink A.R.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman | Piombino-Mascali D.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman
Clinical Anatomy | Year: 2012

Eight anatomical preparations from the collection of Giovan Battista Rini (1795-1856) at the Desenzano Hospital Pathology Division (Brescia, Italy) were examined by computed tomography (CT). The aim of the study was to obtain detailed information on the state of preservation of these "anatomical mummies" and the techniques used to prepare them. Relying on the existing literature, the examined specimens (five heads with necks, two busts and one heart) could be divided into three types of anatomical specimens: "dry preparations," "corrosion preparations," and "organ preparations." CT examination enabled the assessment of the exact features of each specimen, some of the preparation techniques applied, the presence of foreign bodies, and the use of substances to fill the blood vessels. All of the cases demonstrated an extremely good state of preservation. The study sheds new light on important-yet scarcely known-preparation techniques created for different anatomical demonstrations. Results of the CT investigation were consistent with the anatomical preservation methods described in 18th to 20th century literature, particularly those of Italy. Copyright © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Panzer S.,Trauma Center Murnau | Zink A.R.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman | Piombino-Mascali D.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman
Radiographics | Year: 2010

The purpose of this study was to use paleoradiologic analyses to investigate a sample of the mummies in the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, Sicily, in order to assess skeletal abnormalities and the state of preservation, especially the condition of the internal organs, and to determine radiologic evidence of anthropogenic mummification. Ten 19th and early 20th century mummies with good external preservation were investigated by using a portable direct radiography unit inside the Capuchin Catacombs. The radiographs clearly demonstrated signs of anthropogenic mummification in nine of the 10 mummies investigated. The embalming methods that had been used included (a) evisceration and arterial injection; (b) the placement of foreign materials into the orbits and the nasal and oral cavities; and (c) filling of the thoracic, abdominal, and rectal cavities with foreign materials. Organ preservation varied greatly among the mummies, although brain tissue was found in all of the mummies. Analyses of the skeletal material of the mummies showed evidence of healed vertebral fractures, age-related degenerative changes, and, in one of the child mummies, a remarkable skeletal pathologic condition. The radiographs clearly illustrated different methods of anthropogenic mummification in the catacomb mummies of Palermo, allowed assessment of the preservation of the mummies, and demonstrated skeletal abnormalities. © RSNA, 2010.

Searcey N.,University of Nebraska - Lincoln | Reinhard K.J.,University of Nebraska - Lincoln | Egarter-Vigl E.,General and Regional Hospital | Maixner F.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman | And 5 more authors.
International Journal of Paleopathology | Year: 2013

We undertook the analysis of Zweeloo Woman, a bog mummy from the Netherlands, to assess her parasitic state. Evidence of infection came from two areas: (1) liver paraffin sections and (2) microfossils washed from an intestinal section. Although the liver had shrunken considerably, objects consistent with operculated trematode eggs were found. After evaluating the range of trematode species that produce eggs in liver tissue, we arrived at the diagnosis of Dicrocoelium dendriticum. Although only 0.1. ml of sediment was recovered from an intestinal section, eggs of Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura were also identified. No eggs of D. dendriticum were revealed by the intestinal wash although they were observed in the liver. The lancet fluke, D. dendriticum, is a zoonosis that usually infects ruminants such as cattle. Eggs of D. dendriticum may be found in human coprolites if infected cow liver, for example, was eaten. This is false parasitism. Since eggs of D. dendriticum were found in the liver of Zweeloo Woman, we are assured this was a true infection. This find is especially significant because it is the oldest known, patent infection of D. dendriticum in humans. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.

Pinar G.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Krakova L.,Slovak Academy of Sciences | Pangallo D.,Slovak Academy of Sciences | Piombino-Mascali D.,Sicilian Region | And 3 more authors.
Extremophiles | Year: 2014

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Italy, contain over 1800 mummies dating from the 16th to 20th centuries AD. Their environment is not conducive to the conservation of the remains due to, among other factors, water infiltration, which is producing salt efflorescences on the walls. A multiphasic approach was applied to investigate the halophilic microbiota present in the Catacombs. Enrichment cultures were conducted on media containing different NaCl concentrations, ranging from 3 to 20 %. For screening of the strains, the following two PCR-based methods were used and compared: fluorescence internal transcribed spacer PCR (f-ITS) and random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analyses. Results derived from RAPD profiles were shown to be slightly more discriminative than those derived from f-ITS. In addition, the proteolytic and cellulolytic abilities were screened through the use of plate assays, gelatin agar and Ostazin Brilliant Red H-3B (OBR-HEC), respectively. Many of the strains isolated from the wall samples displayed proteolytic activities, such as all strains belonging to the genera Bacillus, Virgibacillus and Arthrobacter, as well as some strains related to the genera Oceanobacillus, Halobacillus and Idiomarina. In addition, many of the strains isolated from materials employed to stuff the mummies showed cellulolytic activities, such as those related to species of the genera Chromohalobacter and Nesterenkonia, as well as those identified as Staphylococcus equorum and Halomonas sp. Furthermore, many of the strains were pigmented ranging from yellow to a strong pink color, being directly related to the discoloration displayed by the materials. © 2014 The Author(s).

Pinar G.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | Piombino-Mascali D.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman | Maixner F.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman | Zink A.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman | Sterflinger K.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
FEMS Microbiology Ecology | Year: 2013

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo contain over 1800 preserved bodies dating from the 16th to 20th centuries AD and showing evidence of biodeterioration. An extensive microbiological and molecular investigation was recently performed. Samples were taken from skin, muscle, hair, bone, stuffing materials, clothes, and surrounding walls as well as from the indoor air. In this study, we witnessed that the different degradation phenomena observed on the variety of materials located at the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are biological in origin. Molecular techniques showed the dominance of halophilic species of the domains Bacteria and Archaea on the walls and - as a result of salt emanating from the walls - on the mummies themselves. Nevertheless, specialized microorganisms belonging to taxa well-known for their cellulolytic and proteolytic activities were detected on clothes and stuffing material, and on skin, muscle, hair, and bone, respectively. This specialized microbiota is threatening the conservation of the mummies themselves. Additionally, sequences related to the human skin microbiome and to some pathogenic Bacteria (order Clostridiales) and fungi (genus Phialosimplex) were identified on samples derived from the mummies. Furthermore, a phosphate-reducing fungus, Penicillium radicum, was detected on bone. Finally, the high concentration of airborne fungal spores is not conducive to the conservation of the human remains and is posing a potential health risk for visitors. © 2013 The Authors. FEMS Microbiology Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the Federation of European Microbiological Societies.

Panzer S.,Paracelsus Medical University | Gill-Frerking H.,Mummies of the World Touring Company | Rosendahl W.,Reiss Engelhorn Museen | Zink A.R.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman | Piombino-Mascali D.,EURAC Institute for Mummies and the Iceman
Annals of Anatomy | Year: 2013

Whole-body multidetector computed tomography (CT) was performed on the mummified corpse of two-year-old Rosalia Lombardo, an anthropogenic mummy displayed in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Rosalia Lombardo reportedly died of bronchopneumonia in 1920 and was preserved by the embalmer and taxidermist Alfredo Salafia with a formaldehyde-based fluid. Rosalia Lombardo's body is still exhibited in the Capuchin Catacombs inside the original glass-topped coffin in which she was placed. Only her head is visible: the rest of her body is covered by a sheet.CT images of Rosalia's body within her coffin were of reduced quality because of distinct metal artifacts caused by the coffin itself. Nevertheless, a detailed radiological analysis was possible for most of the body. Analysis of the data from the CT examination revealed indicators for the historically-reported endovasal and intracavity treatment. Rosalia's entire body was preserved in a remarkable state. The exceptional preservation of her internal organs made it possible to consider a radiological diagnosis of pneumonia.For this study, CT was determined to be the ultimate method for investigation, since Rosalia's body had to be kept untouched in her sealed coffin for conservation purposes. The CT examination offered new insights into the current preservation status of the body, and the superior contrast of CT allowed detailed assessment of different tissues. Post-processing methods provided reconstructions on any desired plane, as well as three-dimensional reconstruction, for the best possible visualization and interpretation of the body. © 2013 Elsevier GmbH.

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