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Reconstructing the life of an unknown (ca. 500 years-old South American Inca) mummy--multidisciplinary study of a Peruvian Inca mummy suggests severe Chagas disease and ritual homicide.

Panzer S, Peschel O, Haas-Gebhard B, Bachmeier BE, Pusch CM, Nerlich AG - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Paleoradiology further shows extensive hypertrophy of the heart muscle and a distended large bowel/rectum.Histologically, in the rectum wall massive fibrosis alternates with residual smooth muscle.The latter contains multiple inclusions of small intracellular parasites as confirmed by immunohistochemical and molecular ancient DNA analysis to represent a chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Radiology, Trauma Center Murnau, Murnau, Germany and Biomechanics Laboratory, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg and Trauma Center Murnau, Murnau, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The paleopathological, paleoradiological, histological, molecular and forensic investigation of a female mummy (radiocarbon dated 1451-1642 AD) provides circumstantial evidence for massive skull trauma affecting a young adult female individual shortly before death along with chronic infection by Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas disease). The mummy (initially assumed to be a German bog body) was localized by stable isotope analysis to South America at/near the Peruvian/Northern Chilean coast line. This is further supported by New World camelid fibers attached to her plaits, typical Inca-type skull deformation and the type of Wormian bone at her occiput. Despite an only small transverse wound of the supraorbital region computed tomography scans show an almost complete destruction of face and frontal skull bones with terrace-like margins, but without evidence for tissue reaction. The type of destruction indicates massive blunt force applied to the center of the face. Stable isotope analysis indicates South American origin: Nitrogen and hydrogen isotope patterns indicate an extraordinarily high marine diet along with C4-plant alimentation which fits best to the coastal area of Pacific South America. A hair strand over the last ten months of her life indicates a shift to a more "terrestric" nutrition pattern suggesting either a move from the coast or a change in her nutrition. Paleoradiology further shows extensive hypertrophy of the heart muscle and a distended large bowel/rectum. Histologically, in the rectum wall massive fibrosis alternates with residual smooth muscle. The latter contains multiple inclusions of small intracellular parasites as confirmed by immunohistochemical and molecular ancient DNA analysis to represent a chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection. This case shows a unique paleopathological setting with massive blunt force trauma to the skull nurturing the hypothesis of a ritual homicide as previously described in South American mummies in an individual that suffered from severe chronic Chagas disease.

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Macroscopic aspect of the mummy.(A) Frontal view of the mummy which reveals typical squatting position (although the legs are broken off below both knees). (B) External appearance of the hair plaits which are fixed at their ends by tiny ropes of foreign material. (C) Detailed view of the mummy’s face. Note the transverse defect above the left eye. Both eyes are closed and covered by skin. The mouth is ovally opened, the frontal teeth are missing.
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pone-0089528-g001: Macroscopic aspect of the mummy.(A) Frontal view of the mummy which reveals typical squatting position (although the legs are broken off below both knees). (B) External appearance of the hair plaits which are fixed at their ends by tiny ropes of foreign material. (C) Detailed view of the mummy’s face. Note the transverse defect above the left eye. Both eyes are closed and covered by skin. The mouth is ovally opened, the frontal teeth are missing.

Mentions: Whilst the mummy was recorded first in the Anatomic Institute, there is no written evidence available neither about the mummy’s origin nor its way to the Munich University. During World War II, the mummy suffered some damage (especially the loss of both lower legs) during bombing [4]. Due to the dark brown external appearance (Figure 1A), she was tentatively assumed to represent a “bog body” from a moor region in the close surroundings of Munich (e.g. from the so-called “Dachauer Moos”) [4]. Unusually for this assumption, however, were the good preservation of the outer shape and – even more remarkably – the well-preserved structure of bone tissue even in previous radiograms [4]. Furthermore, despite the missing lower legs (that seem to have been torn off more recently), the female is presented in a squat-position and wears long aesthetic plaits which again is highly unusual for individuals of past European populations (Figure 1B). In the 1970ies the mummy was donated to the Bavarian Archeological State Collection, Munich. Since its donation, the female body had been on exhibition for several decades in the collection.


Reconstructing the life of an unknown (ca. 500 years-old South American Inca) mummy--multidisciplinary study of a Peruvian Inca mummy suggests severe Chagas disease and ritual homicide.

Panzer S, Peschel O, Haas-Gebhard B, Bachmeier BE, Pusch CM, Nerlich AG - PLoS ONE (2014)

Macroscopic aspect of the mummy.(A) Frontal view of the mummy which reveals typical squatting position (although the legs are broken off below both knees). (B) External appearance of the hair plaits which are fixed at their ends by tiny ropes of foreign material. (C) Detailed view of the mummy’s face. Note the transverse defect above the left eye. Both eyes are closed and covered by skin. The mouth is ovally opened, the frontal teeth are missing.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3935882&req=5

pone-0089528-g001: Macroscopic aspect of the mummy.(A) Frontal view of the mummy which reveals typical squatting position (although the legs are broken off below both knees). (B) External appearance of the hair plaits which are fixed at their ends by tiny ropes of foreign material. (C) Detailed view of the mummy’s face. Note the transverse defect above the left eye. Both eyes are closed and covered by skin. The mouth is ovally opened, the frontal teeth are missing.
Mentions: Whilst the mummy was recorded first in the Anatomic Institute, there is no written evidence available neither about the mummy’s origin nor its way to the Munich University. During World War II, the mummy suffered some damage (especially the loss of both lower legs) during bombing [4]. Due to the dark brown external appearance (Figure 1A), she was tentatively assumed to represent a “bog body” from a moor region in the close surroundings of Munich (e.g. from the so-called “Dachauer Moos”) [4]. Unusually for this assumption, however, were the good preservation of the outer shape and – even more remarkably – the well-preserved structure of bone tissue even in previous radiograms [4]. Furthermore, despite the missing lower legs (that seem to have been torn off more recently), the female is presented in a squat-position and wears long aesthetic plaits which again is highly unusual for individuals of past European populations (Figure 1B). In the 1970ies the mummy was donated to the Bavarian Archeological State Collection, Munich. Since its donation, the female body had been on exhibition for several decades in the collection.

Bottom Line: Paleoradiology further shows extensive hypertrophy of the heart muscle and a distended large bowel/rectum.Histologically, in the rectum wall massive fibrosis alternates with residual smooth muscle.The latter contains multiple inclusions of small intracellular parasites as confirmed by immunohistochemical and molecular ancient DNA analysis to represent a chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Radiology, Trauma Center Murnau, Murnau, Germany and Biomechanics Laboratory, Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg and Trauma Center Murnau, Murnau, Germany.

ABSTRACT
The paleopathological, paleoradiological, histological, molecular and forensic investigation of a female mummy (radiocarbon dated 1451-1642 AD) provides circumstantial evidence for massive skull trauma affecting a young adult female individual shortly before death along with chronic infection by Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas disease). The mummy (initially assumed to be a German bog body) was localized by stable isotope analysis to South America at/near the Peruvian/Northern Chilean coast line. This is further supported by New World camelid fibers attached to her plaits, typical Inca-type skull deformation and the type of Wormian bone at her occiput. Despite an only small transverse wound of the supraorbital region computed tomography scans show an almost complete destruction of face and frontal skull bones with terrace-like margins, but without evidence for tissue reaction. The type of destruction indicates massive blunt force applied to the center of the face. Stable isotope analysis indicates South American origin: Nitrogen and hydrogen isotope patterns indicate an extraordinarily high marine diet along with C4-plant alimentation which fits best to the coastal area of Pacific South America. A hair strand over the last ten months of her life indicates a shift to a more "terrestric" nutrition pattern suggesting either a move from the coast or a change in her nutrition. Paleoradiology further shows extensive hypertrophy of the heart muscle and a distended large bowel/rectum. Histologically, in the rectum wall massive fibrosis alternates with residual smooth muscle. The latter contains multiple inclusions of small intracellular parasites as confirmed by immunohistochemical and molecular ancient DNA analysis to represent a chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection. This case shows a unique paleopathological setting with massive blunt force trauma to the skull nurturing the hypothesis of a ritual homicide as previously described in South American mummies in an individual that suffered from severe chronic Chagas disease.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus