A Paleoneurohistological Study of 3,000-Year-Old Mummified Brain Tissue from the Mediterranean Bronze AgePrats-Muñoz G.e · Malgosa A.e · Armentano N.e · Galtés I.c, e · Esteban J.b · Bombi J.A.b · Tortosa M.b · Fernández E.b · Jordana X.d · Isidro A.f · Fullola J.M.a · Petit M.À.a · Guerrero V.M.g · Calvo M.g · Fernández P.L.b
aSeminar of Prehistoric Studies and Research, Department of Prehistory, Ancient History and Archaeology, and bDepartment of Pathology, Hospital Clínic and Institut d’Investigacions August Pi i Sunyer, University of Barcelona, cCentre de Patologia Forense de Collserola, Institut de Medicina Legal de Catalunya, dInstitut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont, and eUnitat d’Antropologia Biològica, Departament BABVE, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and fServicio COT, Hospital Universitari Sagrat Cor, Barcelona, and gDepartament de Ciències Històriques i Teoria de les Arts, Àrea de Prehistòria, Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Dr. Pedro L. Fernández, MD, PhD
Department of Pathology, Hospital Clinic
ES–08036 Barcelona (Spain)
Tel. +34 93 337 5450, E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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Objectives: Mummified nervous tissue is very rarely found in ancient remains and usually corresponds to corpses which were frozen or preserved in bogs, conditions which limit tissue autolysis and bacterial degradation. Here, we show the unusual finding of spontaneously mummified brain tissue from several individuals from the little known megalithic talaiotic culture of the island of Minorca, dating approximately 3,000 years before present and corresponding to the late Mediterranean Bronze Age. Methods: These individuals were part of an intact burial site containing 66 subjects. Intracraneal samples were carefully rehydrated with Sandison’s solution. We used classical histochemical as well as 2D and 3D (scanning) electron-microscopic techniques. Results: We provide evidence of the nervous nature of the samples as well as a detailed description of the morphological features of these ancient tissues. The intracranial material consisted of well-preserved eosinophilic reticular tissue and, although mostly absent, some exceptional pigment-containing neurons were identified. Conclusions: We present a detailed morphological analysis which can provide valuable information and guidelines for the interpretation of this scarce type of mummified samples and provide explanations for this surprising preservation.
© 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel
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