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Novel Strategies for the Interdisciplinary Study of Mummified Remains from the Egyptian Collection at the Museum of Ethnography and Anthropology of the University of Turin, Italy
Gianluigi Mangiapane  1@  , Beatrice Demarchi * , Jorune Sakalauskaite, Elisa Fiore Marochetti, Rosa Boano * @
1 : Dipartimento di Filosofia e Scienze dell'Educazione - Università di Torino
Corso Massimo d'Azeglio 52 I-10126 Torino -  Italie
* : Auteur correspondant

Mummified human bodies are perhaps the most fascinating source of biological and environmental information over the life and death of past individuals: their health, diet, patterns of mobility, causes of death. However, multi-disciplinary studies of mummies, integrating explicitly historical, archaeological and anthropological aspects, novel technologies for geochemical and biomolecular analyses (ancient DNA, paleoproteomics, stable isotopes) and museology are still relatively rare.

Here we present preliminary results from a new project which aims at achieving such integration of traditional physical anthropology and novel approaches of archaeological science in order to bring back into the spotlight an exceptional Egyptian collection: the "G. Marro" collection, established at the beginning of the 20th century and now hosted at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the University of Turin, Italy. This includes thirty one mummies of pre-dynastic and dynastic age and their grave goods (including baskets woven with vegetable fibers, ropes, and bandages) and it therefore represents an ideal sample for reconstructing a variety of aspects of people's lifeways in ancient Egypt through time. These remains are in varying states of preservation, and are currently being held at the Centre for Conservation and Restoration “La Venaria Reale”, of international reputation, where they will undergo conservation and restoration interventions.

The main research aim is that of establishing a non-destructive and/or micro-destructive analytical pipeline which optimises the use of precious samples, maximising the amount of information. This would improve the confidence of curators and conservators in the value of sampling for scientific analyses, and at the same time yield important clues on the state of preservation of the tissues and, in general, of the organic materials.

The preliminary results presented were obtained on “Mummy N° 14063”, a mummified body of Pre-Dynastic - Proto-dynastic Epoch (Protohistory), macroscopically very well preserved. We used the novel information gathered through biomolecular and anthropological analyses in order to develop our scientific and archaeological understanding of this individual, but also to inform and reflect upon museology and audience engagement strategies, which will be used to design a museum display according to the most advanced international standards for the exhibition of human bodies.

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