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Replicating the Mutilations of the Facial Skeleton of Djehutynakht in a Human Cadaver

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Abstract:

Radiographic investigation of the wrapped mummified head of Djehutynakht from Deir el-Bersha has revealed elaborate post-mortem mutilations of the jaw and facial skeleton that are thus far unique in the historical record. This Middle Kingdom head also represents perhaps the earliest example of excerebration that can be assigned to a specific time, site, and individual; however the skeletal mutilations are unrelated to brain removal and their purpose is subject to speculation. Because the skin of the face and scalp was undisturbed we previously hypothesized that removal of the facial bones was achieved entirely through the mouth. To investigate the feasibility of this as well as gain an understanding of the technical aspects of such a procedure we replicated it in two human cadavers using instruments that were available to the ancient embalmer. The sequence of osteotomies and bone removal are rigidly dictated by the relevant anatomy and our dissection almost certainly replicated the manner in which they were actually carried out. The procedure is straightforward but does require an understanding of the relevant anatomy. We had previously speculated that the functional relationships of the anatomic structures indicate that the mutilations were carried out in order to facilitate jaw movement. The present investigation demonstrates that this is effectively accomplished. The mutilations, which were undoubtedly performed during preparation of the body for burial, may add significantly to our knowledge of the evolution of the funerary ritual as well as clarify the origins of contemporary medical knowledge.
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Association:
Name: The 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt
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http://www.arce.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p556821_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Chapman, Paul. "Replicating the Mutilations of the Facial Skeleton of Djehutynakht in a Human Cadaver" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt, Renaissance Providence Hotel, Providence, RI, Apr 27, 2012 <Not Available>. 2014-12-12 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p556821_index.html>

APA Citation:

Chapman, P. H. , 2012-04-27 "Replicating the Mutilations of the Facial Skeleton of Djehutynakht in a Human Cadaver" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Research Center in Egypt, Renaissance Providence Hotel, Providence, RI <Not Available>. 2014-12-12 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p556821_index.html

Publication Type: Abstract Proposal
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Radiographic investigation of the wrapped mummified head of Djehutynakht from Deir el-Bersha has revealed elaborate post-mortem mutilations of the jaw and facial skeleton that are thus far unique in the historical record. This Middle Kingdom head also represents perhaps the earliest example of excerebration that can be assigned to a specific time, site, and individual; however the skeletal mutilations are unrelated to brain removal and their purpose is subject to speculation. Because the skin of the face and scalp was undisturbed we previously hypothesized that removal of the facial bones was achieved entirely through the mouth. To investigate the feasibility of this as well as gain an understanding of the technical aspects of such a procedure we replicated it in two human cadavers using instruments that were available to the ancient embalmer. The sequence of osteotomies and bone removal are rigidly dictated by the relevant anatomy and our dissection almost certainly replicated the manner in which they were actually carried out. The procedure is straightforward but does require an understanding of the relevant anatomy. We had previously speculated that the functional relationships of the anatomic structures indicate that the mutilations were carried out in order to facilitate jaw movement. The present investigation demonstrates that this is effectively accomplished. The mutilations, which were undoubtedly performed during preparation of the body for burial, may add significantly to our knowledge of the evolution of the funerary ritual as well as clarify the origins of contemporary medical knowledge.


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