Paleopathology of Pre-Columbian Mummies at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology in Florence

Andrea Marrazzini, Raffaele Gaeta, Gino Fornaciari


We performed a histopathological study on the mummified tissue specimens of seven pre-Columbian mummies which arrived in Italy in the second half of the 19th century and are housed in the Section of Anthropology and Ethnology of the Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence.
The results confirm that the modern techniques of pathological anatomy can be successfully applied on mummified tissues, so as to perform important paleopathological diagnoses.
Among the results obtained from this study there is the only known complete paleopathological study of Chagas disease (American Trypanosomiasis), comprising macroscopic, microscopic and ultrastructural data, as well as information on atherosclerosis, anthracosis, emphysema and pneumonia.

Key words: Mummies Pre-Columbian America Chagas disease - Paleopathology

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