Advanced imaging

Once the radiographic and endoscopic procedures have been conducted, a decision regarding the use of advanced imaging such as computed tomography (CT) scanning for further analysis needs to be made. Considerations should include, but not be limited to, the safety of the bundle, coffin, and mummy. Additional considerations include the following:

Figure 7.9 (see color insert following page 12.) Radiograph showing a ring on the finger of a crypt mummy from Popoli, Italy. the accompanying endoscopic image of the ring adds the characteristics of color and contour to the analysis.

1. Are the remains stable enough for transport?

2. What impact will transportation have on this particular case?

3. What are the travel conditions associated with this particular situation?

4. What additional data will be attainable?

5. What data will be added for interpretation?

6. Is the study only for a limited purpose, such as aesthetic imagery?

7. What will be done with all the data collected?

8. What is the cost/benefit and risk/benefit impact of such a study?

Although advanced imaging is powerful, it may not add much to what knowledge has already been obtained by less expensive field paleoimaging studies. With that said, if there is a specific target artifact that is unique to the fields of anthropology and archaeology, advanced imaging may well be warranted.

Case study

One powerful example of the complementary nature of standard field radiography and endoscopy as related to target artifact analysis is found in a case we have come to call "El Viejo" (Guillen and Beckett 2000).

El Viejo was discovered in a tomb among the vast cemetery of the pre-Columbian culture known as the Chiribaya (AD 900-1350). The Chiribaya inhabited the Osmore river valley near the contemporary village of El Algarrobal (Figure 7.10), which is about 17 km from the fishing town of Ilo, in southern Peru. El Viejo was recovered from a typical Chiribaya-style tomb in this remote region of the Atacama Desert. The rock-lined tomb was discovered about 1 m below the surface. Figure 7.11 shows the typical grave goods associated with Chiribaya burials. El Viejo and his associated grave goods were documented and excavated, then transported to the nearby research facility of Centro Mallqui under the direction of Dr. Sonia Guillen. A preliminary radiographic survey was conducted at the research facility.

Figure 7.10 Osmore river valley in the Atacama Desert near El Algarrobal, Peru.
Figure 7.11 (see color insert following page 12.) Typical associated grave goods of the chiribaya culture.

Among the anthropological and paleopathological data collected via radiography, it was determined that El Viejo was around 60 years of age when he died, older than the majority of the approximately 800 mummies examined at the research facility. Pelvic bone morphology, along with the prominent browridge and large mastoid processes, indicated that this was a male. The initial lateral radiograph also revealed a unique ceramic artifact that appeared to be inside the mummy's thorax. Additionally, the radiographs revealed that this mummy, unlike all the others at this site, had been eviscerated with the pelvic, abdominal, and lower thoracic cavities being packed with cotton-like substance or llama wool. Because of the superimposition of shadows associated with x-ray, it was not clear from this initial radiographic view if the ceramic artifact was within the thoracic cavity or outside the body.

Since the mummy was in a flexed position, the knees drawn up to the chest, the arms wrapped around the legs, and the head tilted to one side, a lateral projection would not eliminate much of the superimposition. It was decided that a more unique radiographic position was required to determine the relative location of the ceramic artifact. The x-ray beam was directed from the superior to inferior aspects of the body. This image revealed that the ceramic artifact was indeed within the right thorax of the mummy and not on the outside (Figure 7.12).

Initial associations were made between the radiographic findings and the anthropological and paleopathological data collected thus far. The mummy appeared older at the time of his death than the general population whose age at death was generally in the midlife age range. He showed some degenerative or arthritic changes of the spinal column (Figure 7.13) and had extensive wear of his teeth from sand being in the food, yet minimal attrition (Figure 7.14). The burning questions were: Why was this mummy processed so differently from the hundreds of other mummies from this site? Was his longevity enough to be treated in this unique manner at his death? Was his diet somehow different from others in this group, leading to less dental pathology? Had he traveled from another culture and died among the Chiribaya? On the visual inspection component of the physical exam, he had earrings made from cui (guinea pig) pelts that were passing through a large

Figure 7.12 Conventional lateral radiograph (A) showing ceramic artifact associated with El Viejo. Another view (B) was used to determine that the ceramic was, in fact, within the thoracic cage of the mummy. Note: It is not possible to tell from these radiographs if the ceramic had anything inside.

opening formed in each enlarged earlobe (Figure 7.15). Grave goods found in the tomb with the mummy included a ceramic plate with remnants of corn and llama hooves. The textiles that made up his wrappings were modest and in need of conservation.

As the wrapping textiles were removed for conservation, an opening into the left thoracic cavity was discovered at the superior aspect of the left clavicle offering a route for endoscopic examination. Additional routes were also discovered in the lower pelvic region and at the base of the skull posteriorly.

Figure 7.13 Lateral radiograph of the lumbar spine showing moderate arthritic changes on the anterior aspect of the vertebrae (arrow).

Figure 7.14 Lateral radiograph of the skull of El Viejo demonstrates the extensive dental surface wear due to sand in food.

Preliminary endoscopic examination was conducted as described in Chapter 6 by surveying accessible body cavities. The pelvic entry route was selected first to determine if there were any other low-density artifacts not seen on the initial x-rays. Endoscopic images revealed the llama-like wool packing seen as irregular low-density shadows on the initial x-ray and ruled out cotton as the packing material (Figure 7.16). The endoscopic images further confirmed that the individual had been eviscerated. The survey of the abdominopel-vic region complemented the x-ray by revealing artificial sutures on the interior surface of the abdominal wall (Figure 7.17) not visualized radiographically. The skin surrounding the suture sites showed no healing or adherence, suggesting that the suture procedure was conducted soon after the individual had died. The discovery of the sutures not only supported the theory that this individual was eviscerated, but also suggested a route for the evisceration procedure. The suture artifact further supported the premise that this individual was treated in death very differently from the others at this cemetery.

Continued endoscopic survey of the oral and thoracic cavities revealed additional artifacts not seen on the radiographs. Endoscopic images revealed coca leaves adhering to the anterior aspect of the thoracic vertebra and coca leaves within the oral cavity (Figure 7.18). It also appeared that the interior cavities were "treated" with a substance that enhanced the coca leaves attachment to the organic structures. The endoscope revealed that there were coca leaves throughout the accessible body cavities. In addition, endoscopy further documented the arthritic changes seen on the x-rays (Figure 7.19) and the dental status showing extensive wear with little dental attrition (Figure 7.20).

Figure 7.15 Cui (guinea pig) pelt earrings (arrow) on El Viejo.
Figure 7.16 Endoscopic image of the internal abdominopelvic cavity showing a wool-like packing rather than cotton.
Figure 7.17 Endoscopic image of artificial sutures (arrows) seen on the internal surface of the abdominal wall.

Following the endoscopic survey, target analysis was conducted using the supraclavicular entry route for introduction of the endoscope. Traversing the thoracic cavity from left to right, the ceramic artifact was visualized within the right side of the cavity. The shape, color, and contour of the small pot were all documented from the endoscopic image. Additionally, the outer surface of the ceramic also had coca leaves adhering to it in a similar manner as the coca leaves seen on the surface of the internal thoracic vertebra. There were also coca leaves extruding from the mouth of the pot (Figure 7.21).

It was determined that since we had documented the ceramic, its contents, and features, extraction of this artifact would not be necessary, leaving the internal context intact for future research.

It was also determined that transporting the mummy for advanced imaging would not be warranted in this case because the site was quite remote and travel to a facility would

Figure 7.18 Endoscopic images of the wide distribution of coca leaves within various body cavities. Note how the coca leaf adheres to the anterior aspect of the vertebrae in the image on the left.
Figure 7.19 Endoscopic image of arthritic changes complementing radiographic image of the same region.

likely harm the mummy and possibly alter the internal context of the ceramic artifact. Additionally, it was felt that advanced imaging would not add to the field paleoimaging data collected.

In the case of El Viejo, the complementary nature of the two paleoimaging procedures— field radiography and endoscopy—when properly employed can amass more information than observational methods alone. It is imperative, however, that procedural standards be followed in order to maximize the data collected. For example, in the case presented, if only target artifact endoscopic analysis were conducted, the internal sutures and broad

Figure 7.20 Endoscopic image of extensive dental wear pattern complementing the radiographic image. Also note the presence of caries formation.

Figure 7.21 (See color insert following page 12.) Several endoscopic images of the ceramic artifact within the thorax of El Viejo. The images complement the radiograph (D) in that they allow for the assessment of what was held within the ceramic (C), some of its construction features (B), and the presence of coca leaves adhering to the exterior surface (A).

Figure 7.21 (See color insert following page 12.) Several endoscopic images of the ceramic artifact within the thorax of El Viejo. The images complement the radiograph (D) in that they allow for the assessment of what was held within the ceramic (C), some of its construction features (B), and the presence of coca leaves adhering to the exterior surface (A).

distribution of coca leaves found during the initial survey, would have been missed, reducing the analyzable data.

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