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Concept: The Mummy


What originally appeared to be only an external cast of an anuran ‘mummy’ from the Quercy Phosphorites (southwestern France) was described as Rana plicata during the 19th century. Its geographical provenance is only vaguely known; therefore its precise age within the Paleogene was uncertain. The taxon was erected on the basis of the external morphology of the specimen, which includes few diagnostic characters. As a further complication, the name Rana plicata was recently shown to be unavailable at the time of the description, and the name Rana cadurcorum was proposed as a replacement. In order to see whether internal features were fossilized, the fossil was CT scanned. This showed that a large part of the skeleton is preserved. Unexpectedly, the scans revealed that the skull of the mummy is almost identical to that of Thaumastosaurus gezei, another anuran from the late middle or late Eocene of the Quercy Phosphorites. The few observed differences are attributable to intraspecific and ontogenetic variation, and R. cadurcorum is a junior subjective synonym of T. gezei. The mummy is therefore probably from the same time interval as T. gezei. The latter was previously known only by its skull, but the mummy provides important information on the postcranial skeleton. Earlier assessments, based only on the skull, placed Thaumastosaurus close to South American hyloid anurans, but a new phylogenetic analysis including postcranial characters reveals ranoid affinities. This study exemplifies the usefulness of modern imaging technologies that allow non-destructive study of previously inaccessible internal anatomical features.

Concepts: Biology, Tetrapod, Fossil, 19th century, Oligocene, Mummy, The Mummy, Imhotep


A radiologic examination (both CT and traditional X-ray) of two mummies curated at the Albany Institute of History and Art revealed the identity of the mummified remains as well as details of the person’s life style parameters (markers of occupational stress). These mummies, brought to the Institute over 100 years ago, were unstudied until 1989. This preliminary study led to the misappropriation of the remains, and subsequent switching of the remains within their coffins. Recent and more detailed analyses lead to the correct identification of sex, a re-association of the remains to their interment coffins, as well as a detailed analysis of occupational markers. A prosthetic toe was identified in one of the mummies which lead to the functional exploration of prosthetics in the past including their use as part of funerary processing in ancient Egypt. Finally, details of the embalming process place the wrapped mummy within the time frame identified on the coffin of the mummy identified as Ankhefenmut as well as confirming his social status. Anat Rec, 298:1047-1058, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Ancient Egypt, Egypt, Embalming, Burial, Mummy, Egyptian language, British Museum, The Mummy


“The opening of the mouth ritual” (OMR) is a central and well-documented component of the Ancient Egyptian mortuary ceremony. In the scientific literature, we find various references that indicate that parts of this ritual correspond to physical opening of the deceased’s mouth during its mummification. We denote this physical treatment of the dead the “opening of the mouth procedure,” to underline the distinction against the “opening of the mouth ritual,” which is performed ceremonially later on the mummy or even the statue. The mummifying procedure itself however is known only from rare pictorial representations and the later summary descriptions of Greek authors. Nevertheless, recently some authors tried, on the basis of paleopathological findings, to demonstrate that the mouth of the deceased had to be opened physically before mummifying. Careful examination of the mummies of the Swiss Mummy Project and other cases reported in the literature showed frequent dental pathologies including fractured and totally luxated teeth, which were up to now not sufficiently taken into consideration. The detailed report of the preliminary procedures of mummifying the Apis bull-as appropriate detailed descriptions for humans are missing-gives us insight into the treatment of the oral cavity. Our results, when combined with the available historical literature, indicate that the OMR can be regarded as a ritualized counterpart of a real “opening of mouth procedure” during mummification. Anat Rec, 298:1208-1216, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc..

Concepts: Death, Ancient Egypt, Ritual, Mummy, Egyptian language, The Mummy, Opening of the mouth ceremony


There is almost a universal fascination with prehistoric, protohistoric, and historic human remains that preserve the soft tissues (nonskeletal) of the body (general definition of a mummy). While most people within the general public engage with mummies as part of a museum exhibit process, many scientists have taken that fascination much further. Starting as a general fascination with mummification, the scientific process involved in the study of mummies began in earnest in the late 18th Century AD. This issue of the Anatomical Record was conceived and formulated to bring together a series of researchers to highlight their most groundbreaking research on the scientific advances that surround the 21st Century AD study of these preserved biological beings including an illumination of the cultural processes that purposefully or inadvertently are preserved either within their tissues or are present within the context (archaeological) in which they are found (excavated). Twenty-six research articles are presented in this volume on a variety of topics all related to the rich transdisciplinary fields that are now directing their research efforts to the state-of-the art analysis of human mummified remains. Anat Rec, 298:935-940, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Scientific method, Science, Research, Ancient Egypt, 21st century, Mummy, The Mummy, Imhotep