John Denton
Search for other papers by John Denton in
Current site
Google Scholar
Slices of mummy
A thin perspective
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

Histology, one of the first truly scientific techniques to be utilised for the examination of ancient tissues has been available since the beginning of the 20th century. Essentially, the tissue is processed, thin slices are acquired, and then following a staining procedure the section is examined using transmitted light microscopy so that the microscopic and cellular architecture can be seen in both normal and diseased tissues. It is essential that tissues due to be examined by sophisticated and often expensive modern techniques are identified correctly, otherwise rare tissue samples are wasted or the results of the techniques are invalid due to an incorrect tissue being used. Most of the samples examined are in an advanced state of putrefaction and are therefore unsuitable for any meaningful analysis. Occasionally, exceptionally well preserved specimens are found, which allows high quality disease identification, such an example being that of a case of childhood haemorrhagic smallpox, which in my experience is a unique finding. Skeletal tissues are often preserved even though all soft tissues are destroyed through putrefaction. One such case allowed insight into the history of an individual’s medical history over a number of years, indicating at least two pregnancies with possible restriction in the diet of the woman. The final indication was the death of the woman during or very shortly after delivery of her child.

  • Collapse
  • Expand

All of MUP's digital content including Open Access books and journals is now available on manchesterhive.


Mummies, magic and medicine in ancient Egypt

Multidisciplinary essays for Rosalie David


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 123 52 3
Full Text Views 44 2 0
PDF Downloads 30 4 0