Original paper

Hounsfield Units ranges in CT-scans of bog bodies and mummies

Villa, Chiara; Lynnerup, Niels

Anthropologischer Anzeiger Volume 69 No. 2 (2012), p. 127 - 145

published: Mar 1, 2012

DOI: 10.1127/0003-5548/2012/0139

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP140006902001, Price: 29.00 €

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Mummification processes, either artificial or natural, preserve the tissues from postmortem decay, but change them from their original state. In this study we provided the first comprehensive set of Hounsfield Unit (HU) ranges specific for tissues mummified under different environmental conditions (peat bog, cold-dry and hot-dry environment). We also analyzed the impact of different museal preservation techniques on the HU ranges, as e.g. in the Tollund Man and Grauballe Man, two bog bodies from Denmark. The HU results for mummies were compared with HU results from forensic cases, cremated and inhumated ancient human skeletal remains, and fossil animal bones. Knowledge of the typical HU range for the different tissues in mummies may help to avoid misinterpretation of increased or reduced radiodensity as evidence of paleopathological conditions. Finally, we demonstrate the practical benefit of using our re-defined HU ranges by showing the improved results of 3D visualization from automatic segmentation in an Inca mummy from Mount Llullaillaco.