First Indication For Embalming In Roman Greece





Swiss-Greek research team co-lead by Dr. Frank Rühli from the Institute of Anatomy, University of Zurich, found evidence of embalming in Roman Greek times. By means of physico-chemical and histological methods, it was possible to show that various resins, oils and spices were used during the embalming of a female, approximately 55 years old, in Northern Greece.

This is the first ever multidisciplinary-based indication for artificial mummification in Greece at 300 AD.

The remains of a ca. 55-year old female (ca. 300 AD, most likely of high-social status; actual location: Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, Greece) shows the preservation of various soft-tissues, hair and part of a gold-embroidered silk cloth. This unique find allows for multidisciplinary research on these tissues. In addition to macroscopic and anthropological analyses, electron microscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry examinations were also performed. These showed the presence of various embalming substances including myrrh, fats and resins, but could not demonstrate clearly a conservatory influence of the surrounding lead coffin from Roman period. The findings significantly increase knowledge about the use of tissue-preserving, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidative substances in the mortuary practices of Roman Greece.



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