3D technology uncovers the causes of death of 3 ancient South American mummies — and it isn't pretty
- A report published Friday examined the causes of deaths of three South American mummies.
- The two male mummies died violently, while the female died of natural causes.
The 16-page report released Friday in the journal Frontiers in Medicine took a look at three South American mummies — two male and one female — between 740 and 1120 years old.
Per the report, each was "naturally mummified" and had "good preservation of soft tissues."
Through CT scanning, a non-invasive scan used to examine objects in 3D, researchers found the men died violently, while the female died of natural causes.
"The availability of modern CT-scans with the opportunity for 3D reconstructions offers unique insight into bodies that would otherwise not have been detected," Andreas Nerlich, a professor at the Department of Pathology of Munich Clinic Bogenhausen in Germany and a co-author of the report, said in a statement: "Previous studies would have either destroyed the mummy, while X-rays or older CT-scans without three-dimensional reconstruction functions could not have detected the diagnostic key features we found here."
The first male mummy is estimated to have lived between 996 and 1147 CE in the Arica region in Northern Chile. The report refers to him as the "Marburg" man. The man was approximately 20 to 25 years old and was buried in a seated position.
The second two were referred to as the "Delémont" mummies — with the male's life dated between 902 and 994 CE and the female's dated between 1224 and 1282 CE. The two mummies, likely from the Arequipa region in Peru, had been positioned flat on their backs rather than seated.
The Marburg man is assumed to have died after "[One] assaulter hit the victim with full force on the head and [a] second assaulter stab[bed] the victim (who still was standing or kneeling) in the back," per the report. The other seemingly died after experiencing "massive trauma against the cervical spine."
A group of researchers from universities in Spain, the UK, the US, and Germany coauthored the report.
"Importantly, the study of human mummified material can reveal a much higher rate of trauma, especially intentional trauma, than the study of skeletons. There are dozens of South American mummies which might profit from a similar investigation as done here we did here," Nerlich continued.
The authors did not immediately reply to Insider's request for comment.
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