Artifact Analysis Paleoimaging Findings

There were two unexpected findings from the imaging studies. On the conventional x-rays using Polaroid film as the image receptor, multiple, flat, circular, coinlike objects appeared to be located between the oro- and laryngopharynx, or upper esophagus (Figure 7.22). Fiber-optic videoendoscopy verified the presence of stacked U.S. coins, specifically pennies (Figure 7.23). After considerable manipulation using clinical postural drainage positions and the use of a bronchoscope cytology brush under fluoroscopic guidance to dislodge the coins, a total of 21 U.S. pennies dating from 1896 to 1961 were eventually retrieved.

The second unexpected finding was a thin metallic object seen on the x-rays in the area along the superior portion of the mouth on the left side (Figure 7.24). Endoscopy revealed that the object was lodged under the tongue, and with a little manipulation, what appeared to be an oxidized nail was removed. Connecticut State archaeologist, Nick Bellantoni, examined the artifact and determined that it was a factory-cut nail dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Bellantoni 2005). Bellantoni felt that it could be a finishing nail or a shingle/lathe nail. The shape of this type of nail prevented the cracking of wood often

Figure 7.23 Endoscopic image of a 1956 U.S. penny in the oropharynx of James Penn and a photograph taken after it was removed.

experienced when using a wire nail. Bellantoni was certain that it was not a fastener used in coffin or casket manufacturing.

The coins discovered in the upper esophagus were an interesting find. The date range of the coins suggests that they had been placed there over a long period. It further suggests that the mummy had been viewed at the funeral home, perhaps as a dramatic example of the embalming prowess at the Auman Funeral Home. The coins may have been placed according to the custom of giving the dead hidden money to pay the boatman who will transport the recently dead across the river Styx. Or perhaps the mummy was simply an unusual wishing well.

The artifacts associated with this case—the coins and the nail—seem to verify the temporal period reported in the late 19th century newspaper accounts of James Penn. An additional piece of information from direct observation points to the same time period— the style of stitching used at the embalming sites, a baseball stitch that was in vogue around the turn of that century.

This case also demonstrates the suggested procedure for artifact analysis using paleoimaging methodologies. First, a survey was conducted using both standard

Figure 7.24 Lateral radiograph demonstrating a thin metallic object within James Penn, which turned out to be a nail.

radiography and on-site CT scans. Target analysis was accomplished using standard radiography and endoscopy. And finally, artifact extraction was conducted under both fluoroscopic and endoscopic guidance. Based on the on-site evaluation, a decision was made to move the mummy. This decision was based on the stability of the mummy and the additional paleopathological data that could be derived using a state-of-the-art multidetector CT (MDCT) scanner. It was agreed by the research team that this would be a low-risk high-benefit endeavor. The paleopathological data associated with James Penn (pulmonary adhesions, lesions, and liver pathology) are presented in Chapter 3.

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