Mummifed head reveals advanced medieval medicine

Published on March 6th, 2013 | by Admin

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A study of a preserved human head from medieval times suggests that the doctors of the era may have been more medically advanced than previously thought.

The gruesome specimen, now in a private collection, consists of a human head and shoulders with the top of the skull and brain removed. Rodent nibbles and insect larvae trails mar the face. The arteries are filled with a red “metal wax” compound that helped preserve the body.

The preparation of the specimen was surprisingly advanced. Radiocarbon dating puts the age of the body between A.D. 1200 and A.D.1280, an era once considered part of Europe’s anti-scientific “Dark Ages.” In fact, said study researcher Philippe Charlier, a physician and forensic scientist at University Hospital R. Poincare in France, the new specimen suggests surprising anatomical expertise during this time period.

“It’s state-of-the-art,” Charlier told LiveScience. “I suppose that the preparator did not do this just one time, but several times, to be so good at this.”

[Full story]

Story: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience | Photo: Archives of Medical Science

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