April 19, 2021

They perform a virtual autopsy on a guanche mummy – La Provincia

They perform a virtual autopsy on a guanche mummy - La Provincia


The Diagnostic Service for the Image of the University Hospital Quirónsalud Madrid and the National Archaeological Museum (MAN) they have carried out a 'virtual autopsy', through a last generation computerized tomography, to four mummies, one of them guanche, to improve knowledge of their anatomy and gather information about their historical context and that has allowed to know their food, diseases or their social status.

All this process, as well as the conclusions obtained, are in the book 'Journey to the interior of the mummies', edited by Amat Editorial and that has been presented in the Auditorium of the Archaeological Museum by the head of the Diagnostic service for the Image of the University Hospital Quirónsalud of Madrid, Vicente Martínez de la Vega; and the director of the museum, Andrés Carretero, among others.

In the project has worked a team composed of radiologists, archaeologists and Egyptologists and has allowed to subject four mummies of MAN – Three Egyptian and one Guanche – to that pioneering technique to obtain information on the different mummification systems used and to know the different types of external bandages that were used then and also features of the diet and the health of each of them.

"The project has been really exciting", has defended Martínez de la Vega, aware that the research and the resulting book has been possible thanks to the commissioning of archaeological science of all advances in medical technology.

"Putting the most modern techniques of radiology at the service of the history of humanity has been a challenge and I believe that, together, we have obtained a great amount of information for the scientific community in particular and for society in general", added the professional from the Quirónsalud University Hospital in Madrid, who thanked the "indispensable" role of the MAN experts in the research.

Amulets, food or diseases

Researchers have obtained particularly relevant information about the different mummification techniques used. In one of the mummies analyzed, that of Nespamedu, doctor of the pharaoh, hidden under the bandages, 25 pieces have been discovered as bracelets, bracelets and amulets, among them, a diadem with a winged scarab has been highlighted on the forehead and sandals.

In another of the mummies, that of a young woman, whose mummification was not as painstaking as the previous one and in which several postmortem dislocations, probably produced during embalming, have been identified, the researchers have been surprised by the conservation of the soft tissues , which allows you to clearly appreciate your facial features.

The investigation has allowed to observe the "delicate aspect of his hands, with fingers and long nails" and that the young woman suffered from a possible bone disease and that she lost several teeth due to decay, they have moved.

The third of the Egyptian mummies studied is that of an older woman with a certain degree of arthrosis in the knees and a "terrible oral health" and the radiological study has allowed her to see perfectly her heart, considered among the ancient Egyptians as the organ where the Thought and feelings.

On the other hand, the virtual autopsy practiced on the guanche mummy, mummified according to the specific technique of the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the Canary Islands, has revealed that I had a good diet, with a diet based on land resources despite having lived near the sea. Likewise, it has been possible to conclude that he lived in "healthy" hygiene conditions and that He did not dedicate himself to hard work, in view of the tests practiced on his hands and nails.

The process of scanning the four mummies that has allowed to generate its volumetric and three-dimensional representation from the acquisition of more than 2,000 cross-sectional images was recorded by Story Productions and included in the documentary 'La historia secreta de las momias', co-produced by RTVE.

The documentary shows how the study of the mummies was done from the moment they leave the museum until the results of the TAC are obtained and interpreted by doctors and archaeologists. With this starting point, the life in Egypt of the mummies analyzed is reconstructed.

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