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Swiss Mummy Project

Research Projects

The Swiss Mummy Project (SMP) is an extraordinary initiative dedicated to decoding the intricacies of human health, disease, and cultural practices across millennia. Here's a peek at some of our current projects, which offer an intriguing glimpse into the past.

Diagnostic Imaging of Ancient Mummies: Established modalities, such projection X-ray and computed tmography (CT), are the gold-standard in mummy imaging, providing us with non-invasive ways to examine ancient human remains. However, we're also exploring the potential of emerging imaging techniques, such as MRI and Terahertz imaging, to further expand our analytical capabilities. Moreover, we also investigate the impact of radiation on ancient dry cells through Monte Carlo simulation-based research.

Dental Pathologies in Ancient Mummies (Swiss Mummy Dental Project): By studying dental pathologies, we're gaining fascinating insights into the relations of health status, diet, lifestyle, and even social structures of past civilizations.

Embalming Techniques in Ancient Egypt: The art of mummification is a captivating aspect of ancient Egyptian culture. We seek to elucidate the chemical and physical alterations of tissues induced by the embalming process. This focus contributes to a deeper understanding of human tissue responses under specific preservation conditions.

Meta-Analyses of Ancient Mummy Studies: Through synthesis of extensive data from our mummy studies and the published literature, we strive to discern patterns that elucidate the nature of health and disease in antiquity. This integrative approach, grounded in a paleoepidemiological perspective, facilitates a more comprehensive understanding of ancient medical conditions and their societal implications.

aDNA Analysis: Utilizing advanced analytical methods, our team conducts investigations into ancient DNA extracted from select mummies. This research facilitates a deeper understanding of disease history in antiquity, particularly illuminating the co-evolutionary dynamics between hosts and pathogens.

Histological Analyses of Ancient Mummified Tissues: Through microscopic examination of mummified tissue samples, we focus on discerning disease-induced alterations and their implications for cellular structure and function. This investigation allows us to comprehend the pathophysiological changes and trace the progression of diseases in antiquity.

Field Research in Egypt: Collaborating on initiatives such as the 'Thutmosis III Temple Project' and the 'University of Basel Kings' Valley Project', our team directly engages in in-situ research in the epicenter of mummification.

Mummies in Japan and Iranian Saltmen: Our work is not limited to Egypt. We're exploring mummified remains from around the world, including mummies in Japan, or the Iranian Saltmummy & Saltmine Exploration Project (Chehrabad ), involving the study of exceptionally preserved bodies found in Iranian salt mines.

Each of these projects, though diverse in their focus, share a common goal: to illuminate the history of humanity through the lens of health, disease, and cultural practices. Together, they form the vibrant mosaic of research undertaken by the Swiss Mummy Project.

Peruvian mummy undergoing CT-Scan, Source: Siemens Press Picture