Autopsies on two native American Mummies

American Journal of Physical Anthropology
M Y El-NajjarP A Small


An interdisciplinary team performed autopsies on an adult male and an infant male mummy from the American Southwest. Cause of death has not been determined for the infant. The presence of an unhealed skull fracture associated with an apparent hematoma in the adult male is suggestive of trauma as the cause of death in the adult. Evidence of disease is minimal. Analysis of powder thought to be dried blood from the thoracic cavity of the adult suggests the presence of human IgG. The instability of this protein may indicate the presence of proteolytic activity by enzymes that degrade immunoglobulins upon rehydration. The possibility of enzymatic degradation of proteins will be an important factor in future studies of such immunoglobulins in mummy remains and also indicates the importance of maintaining the desiccated condition of mummy tissues.


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