Paleoimaging Interpreters

Initially, it would seem that since much of the data collected is radiographic, a radiologist would be the logical individual to make the interpretations. While this may be true, there are very few true paleoradiologists available. In fact, there are no specialized training programs in this area of expertise. Too often a radiologist becomes a paleoradiologist as soon as she/he interprets her/his first mummy x-ray. Sadly, this oversimplifies the challenges faced in the interpretation of images produced from mummified human remains. The radiologist does possess the skills necessary for interpretation when the subjects are living hydrated patients. However, the morphologic changes seen among the varied mummification practices require the radiologist to be well versed in the processes of mummification and their effects on the human body. While the radiologist's skills involving differential diagnosis are critical to the interpretation of data, the analyses should include consultation with a physical anthropologist, bioanthropologist, or bioarchaeologist as well as a paleo-pathologist. It is only with this expert input regarding such variables as cultural practices surrounding the mummification method, dietary habits of the culture, and knowledge of varied environmental impacts on human tissue over time, that differential diagnoses can more accurately be determined. The paleoimaging interpreters, then, should include the radiologist (mentored by bioanthropology, bioarchaeology, physical anthropology, and paleopathology), along with a bioanthropologist, physical anthropologist and/or a bioar-chaeologist, and a paleopathologist who is well versed in imaging modalities.

In summary, the ideal paleoimaging team would include a photographer, a radiographer, an endoscopist, a radiologist, a bioanthropologist or bioarchaeologist, a physical anthropologist, and a paleopathologist, all of whom would have specialty training and experience in the process of human mummification and its morphologic and taphonomic impact on the remains. Additional medical experts such as trauma physicians, orthopedists, pulmonary specialists, and dentists, as well as many others, should be available to enhance the interpretation of those data related to their area of expertise.

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