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Pathobiology. 2012;79(5):247-56. doi: 10.1159/000334087. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Paleopathology in South American mummies: a review and new findings.

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Department of Pathology, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.


This article is a review of research and additional unpublished diseases that have been discovered and documented in naturally mummified remains recovered from South America. A new impetus in paleopathological studies was the work and discovery of a solution for rehydration of mummified tissues by Sir Marc Armand Ruffer in 1913. This solution allows the paleopathologist, after performing the autopsy, to process the tissues in a manner similar to current practices in pathology. In our studies, the most common diseases were infectious in nature, similar to the diseases that are most prominent today in the same regions.

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