The story of 12 Chachapoyan mummies through multidetector computed tomography

  • Friedrich K
  • Nemec S
  • Czerny C
 et al. 
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Objective: To assess the imaging findings in Chachapoyan mummies of Peru through multidetector computed tomography (MDCT). Materials and methods: Twelve human mummies and three burial objects from Laguna de los Cóndores, Peru, about 500-1000 years old, were studied, using a MDCT unit. In addition to the standard whole-body acquisitions, high-resolution scans from areas of particular interest were acquired individually (e.g., temporal bone, teeth). Results: Eight mummies were female, three male, and sex was indeterminable in one mummy; the age of the mummies included newborn, 0.7 years, 2.5 years, 13 years, 13 years, 16 years, and six between 20 and 40 years old. The stature of the mummies was reconstructed (mean ± standard deviation; adults: 145 ± 14 cm, adolescents: 116 ± 17 cm, 2.5 years old child: 72 cm, newborns: 41 ± 3 cm). Dental conditions were compromised in seven and excellent in five mummies. Besides a dislocation of the ossicles, temporal bones and ears were normal in all mummies. An occipital osteoma, a tuberculous spondylodiscitis, and also probable tuberculous erosions at one tarsal joint and one sacral bone, osteoarthritis or tuberculous affection of a sacroiliac joint, as well as five cases of pulmonary tuberculosis were observed. Ten mummies were buried in the fetal position, two were found packaged in bundles; the burial technique was studied in detail. A necklace was found with one mummy. The added burial objects were identified as skeletal parts of two leopardis pardalis and one lagothrix flavicauda. Conclusions: MDCT non-invasively revealed information about age, sex, stature, diseases, burial practices and other cultural aspects of the Chachapoyas. © 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Chachapoyas
  • Computed tomography
  • MDCT
  • Mummies
  • Peru

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  • Klaus M. Friedrich

  • Stefan Nemec

  • Christian Czerny

  • Helga Fischer

  • Sonja Plischke

  • André Gahleitner

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