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Forensic Sci Int. 2003 Nov 26;137(2-3):172-82.

Histological analysis on the medieval mummy in Korea.

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Department of Anatomy, Seoul National University, College of Medicine, Yongon-Dong 28, Seoul 110-799, South Korea.


Recently, there have been some reports on the mummies from the medieval tombs in Korea, which were not made on purpose. Although these mummies could be an invaluable source for the studies on the physical state of medieval Koreans, there were not any reports on this subject until now. In this study, we first tried to investigate the various tissues using light- and electron-microscopic techniques. In the organs we have examined, even though the collagen fibers were profusely found within all of them, some types of cells, such as red blood cells, chondrocytes, hepatocyte and muscle cells, were also visible in various tissues. The histological characteristics of the current case seemed to be well matched with the previous study in general even though there were also somewhat different findings from the previous reports on the mummies. Although the cause of the mummification in Korea was not completely explained, we think that the cause in this case could be correlated with cultural aspects--not with natural conditions--because the mummies were only found in cases where the lime-soil barrier was maintained until their discovery, and which separated the inner space of the coffins from the outer space. As similar cases are frequently reported nowadays, invaluable data on the physical status of the medieval Koreans could be attainable if systemic investigation could be performed on similar cases which are found in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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