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The Torricellan Mummy
A “Bailiff” the mummified body which has come to light during restoration work at Saint James’s Church.
This sixteenth Century find is of scientific, cultural and historic interest.
By Luigi Copertino
Many inhabitants of Torricella have been able to see with their own eyes a mummified body that was dug up more than a year ago during restoration work on the foundations of the town’s Mother Church. This discovery caused a sensation amongst Torricellans and, for a long time, people were talking about it everywhere, in their homes, in public and in the market place. Public interest and opinions about the mummy declined, however, over the following months, after the mummy was removed from the Church. Its removal has not meant the Commune’s Administration were getting rid of an “encumbrance” or an “inopportune” historic heritage of the town, but, quite the opposite, they did so for the purposes of restoration and study.
The administrators’ intended to ensure that an important moment in Torricella’s history was preserved, both with regards to cultural identity and from the scientific point of view, whilst at the same time sorting out the mummy with all the due care, respect and “sanctity” due to a human being, albeit dead, (who, since we are dealing with a man from the 16th Century, and considering his place of burial, had certainly been comforted in life by all the Christian sacraments).
In fact the mummy was placed in a room at the Town Hall, in order for the anthropologist, Dr. Luigi Capasso, from the Government’s Department of Archeology’s office at Chieti, to carry out scientific research with the aim of providing it with a historic identity. Initial research led to the deduction that the body had been involved in a very rare, natural, spontaneous process of “mummification” or “calcification”. The mummy was that of a man who had lived in about the 16th Century and, considering the remains of his clothes, he must have been an illustrious personage in 16th Century Torricella. We need not necessarily think of him as an aristocrat, or a nobleman, but more probably a merchant or a wealthy artisan, or maybe a “bailiff”. In medieval and renaissance villages of the centre-south the bailiff held office as a typical public magistrate, corresponding to the “podesta” in 14th, 15th and 16th century communes in northern Italy (but having nothing to do with the “podesta”, nowadays called the mayor, at the top of the commune in fascist times). Research carried out so far has involved two fields of investigation at the same time: the biological, because it is a mummified body, and cultural, because he was still clothed. From the biological point of view anthropological analyses have been carried out, and others might yet be made, which permit partial recognition of the physical and biological characteristics of Torricella’s ancient inhabitants. If this research were to continue, present day Torricellans might be able to learn in depth about the “ethnic-biological” characteristics of their antecedents, that is, of an anthropological-racial nature.
We might be able to discover, moreover, the blood group the mummy in question had in life and also, from studying the contents of his stomach and intestines, we might be able to learn more about the food eaten at that time by the ancestors of today’s Torricellans. Other facts could be extracted by studying intestinal parasites, the hair etc. From a cultural and historic point of view, always provided that the researchinitiated were to be concluded, we could get specific details about his clothes, his shoes, his hat and the materials used for his garments. These latter details could even furnish us with ethnological information, relative to the usage, customs and folklore of Torricella in the 1500’s.
As the reader will certainly have noticed, up to here we have used the conditional tense and have noted several times that the early research might continue. And this precisely is the problem, that is, unfortunately, research has been interrupted more than anything due to a lack of funds. We feel, therefore, the need to appeal not only to all public bodies, the Commune, the Mountain Community, the Government Department of Antiquities, etc., but also to all interested private individuals and especially to the inhabitants of Torricella Peligna, because it deals with their cultural and anthropomorphic history, to ensure that the requisite finances be found, as soon as possible, necessary both for continuing scientific research and also for settling the mummy in a vacuum reliquary with dignity and respect, as had been the original intentions of the Commune’s Administration. We have said “as soon as possible” because now it is a race against time, since, in it’s present provisional state, there is a strong risk that the mummy might start to putrefy and thus to decompose. The only alternative to conservation, whether by private or public funds, would be to bury the mummy in the Torricella cemetery in an anonymous tomb. This would mean that Torricella would lose this precious chance to investigate its roots more deeply; which is not, as it might apparently seem, merely historic curiosity.
© Amici di Torricella Anno II – N. 3 – dicembre 1990
Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca
|LA MUMMIA DI TORRICELLA PELIGNA
di Prof. Luigi Capasso,
Il rinvenimento di un corpo mummificato nei sotteranei della chiesa di San Giacomo Apostolo a Torricella Peligna è un evento di notevole interesse storico e scientifico, che ha fornito un’occasione di studio per quanto riguarda le caratteristiche di questo reperto, soprattutto relativamente al suo inquadramento storico-sociale, antropologico e medico- scientifico.
Gli studi effettuati hanno permesso di determinare alcune caratteristiche riguardanti gli aspetti medico-scientifici peculiari del reperto in questione e, più esattamente, la determinazione di età alla morte, di sesso e di statura in vita, le condizioni patologiche e la determinazione dell’epoca della morte
La mummia di Torricella Peligna è ben conservata, ma il suo ritrovamento e la relativa rimozione hanno comportato l’interruzione delle condizioni ambientali che avevano consentito la mummificazione naturale. Ciò ha reso necessario realizzare un sistema conservativo suppletivo.
L’intervento di restauro prevede l’eliminazione (tramite disinfettanti gassosi immessi attraverso complicate manovre) di tutti gli agenti distruttori, dai più minuti (batteri), a quelli macroscopici (insetti). La successiva conservazione è basata sulla realizzazione di un “microclima confinato”, cioè di una teca con atmosfera di azoto, incompatibile con qualsiasi forma di vita, isolata dall’ambiente esterno
La mummificazione è un evento eccezionale, in quanto dopo la morte il cadavere generalmente subisce una decomposizione che porta alla scheletrificazione.
Il processo di mummificazione dei tessuti molli si può verificare sia per processi naturali che per manipolazioni artificiali.
La mummificazione artificiale è quella che veniva praticata nell’antico Egitto e che ha conservato fino ai giorni nostri una notevole quantità di reperti, ancora oggi oggetto di studi in tutto il mondo.
La mummificazione naturale si verifica con modalità diverse (saponificazione, mummificazione in torba, mummificazione spontanea), la più nota e diffusa delle quali è la mummificazione spontanea.
Il processo di mummificazione spontanea si verifica in condizioni climatiche ben precise e cioè quando l’ambiente di inumazione è molto secco e arieggiato. Questo fatto comporta la rapida disidratazione dei tessuti molli e, quindi, blocca l’azione degli enzimi tissutali responsabili dei processi di autolisi. Altra condizione in grado di influenzare il processo di mummificazione spontanea è lo stato di nutrizione del soggetto al momento del decesso, essendo più facile e rapida la mummificazione di soggetti cachettici.
Descrizione del reperto
La mummia in oggetto rappresenta un corpo disteso in posizione supina, con arti superiori ed inferiori estesi, il cui stato di conservazione è globalmente discreto pur essendo molto diverso da un punto del corpo all’altro.
La testa si presenta disarticolata dal corpo e mostra alcune parti della volta che sono prive di cute, inoltre manca il padiglione auricolare destro.
Il tronco è in buono stato di conservazione e non presenta soluzioni di continuità della cute, mentre negli arti superiori e inferiori sono visibili, in alcuni punti, parti dello scheletro osseo.
Sono visibili, un po’ ovunque, resti di insetti morti che hanno lasciato segni evidenti della loro opera di demolizione.
Il corpo mummificato é quello di un soggetto di sesso maschile e di età adulta. I caratteri sessuali secondari tipici del sesso maschile, espressi a livello del cranio, sono rappresentati dalla generale robustezza dei punti di inserzione dei muscoli masticatori, nucali e della fronte, dalla morfologia della mandibola, più squadrata e “forte” nel sesso maschile, e da una maggiore robustezza dei vari segmenti ossei in generale. Nel nostro soggetto questi caratteri sono stati valutati sia all’osservazione diretta che su radiogramma e si evidenziano come una forte espressione dell’arco sopraciliare, della glabella, dei rilievi del piano nucale e del processo zigomatico del temporale; inoltre il corpo della mandibola è piuttosto grosso, presenta un mento prominente, acuto di profilo, con doppia protuberanza mentale, mentre il suo gonion esprime un processo lemuroide molto marcato, punto di inserzione di un muscolo massetere molto potente.
A livello del bacino sono stati rinvenuti organi genitali esterni di tipo maschile cui corrispondono caratteristiche antropologiche del bacino osseo di tipo androide, con le ali dell’ileo piuttosto strette e verticali ed una incisura ischiatica stretta.
Per quanto riguarda la determinazione dell’età al momento della morte é stato possibile osservare che le estremità epifisarie visibili sono ossificate e questo colloca il soggetto in questione in una fascia di età superiore ai 25 anni; inoltre sono state valutate sia direttamente, per quanto possibile, che indirettamente su lastra radiografica, le suture craniche ed il loro grado di riassorbimento. Da queste valutazioni è scaturito che la sutura sfeno-occipitale è solo parzialmente aperta, la sutura lambdoidea è parzialmente riassorbita nei punti 1 e 2 indicati da Meindl e Lovejoi (1985), mentre risultano poco valutabili le sutura coronale e la sutura sagittale, che tuttavia nei punti esplorabili radiograficamente indicano un grado parziale di riassorbimento. Inoltre restano da considerare la mandibola e la mascella che si presentano completamente edentule, con riassorbimento totale dei processi alveolari, il che indica che tutti i denti sono stati perduti in vita. Tutte queste considerazioni portano ad una determinazione di età alla morte che è maggiore di 50 anni.
La statura in vita, misurata direttamente sul corpo mummificato, è di circa 164 centimetri.
Datazione della sepoltura
Allo scopo di stabilire l’epoca della sepoltura, sono stati prelevati tre campioni di materiale organico, provenienti dalla sepoltura stessa, che sono stati sottoposti ad analisi di cronologia radiometrica con il metodo del radiocarbonio.
I materiali esaminati erano rappresentati da:
1) frammenti di paglia provenienti dal cuscino della salma;
2) frammenti di legno provenienti dalla bara;
3) frammenti di tessuto umano provenienti dalla salma stessa.
I risultati delle misurazioni effettuate non mostrano differenze statisticamente significative; una maggiore differenza può essere rilevata per ciò che concerne l’età del campione di legno, che risulta più antico di circa 50 anni, ma nel complesso le misurazioni sono concordi nel riferire alla metà del XVII secolo l’età della sepoltura.
Rilievo Delle Condizioni Patologiche
La porzione post-craniale della mummia non mostra caratteri patologici di rilievo.
Il cranio è stato studiato sia direttamente che su lastra radiografica e mostra alcune caratteristiche patologiche. Nel suo complesso esso si presenta asimmetrico, infatti presenta un più marcato sviluppo in altezza della porzione parietale destra ed un maggiore sviluppo in larghezza della porzione temporo-occipitale sinistra. Questi caratteri sono apprezzabili su radiogramma dove, ancora più evidente, risulta una maggiore sporgenza della squama dell’osso occipitale tale che, complessivamente, il cranio di questo individuo assume l’aspetto di un cranio conosciuto come “batrocefalico”. Inoltre è visibile, sia all’osservazione diretta che su radiogramma, una spiccata asimmetria della mandibola che, sebbene sia stata accentuata per lussazione post-mortale, risulta essere asimmetrica anche nelle sue due porzioni destra e sinistra confrontate fra loro. Una ulteriore osservazione di carattere patologico riguarda i seni frontali che risultano asimmetrici in quanto, a sinistra, è evidente una maggiore ossificazione che potrebbe rappresentare l’espressione di un osteoma o di un processo flogistico cronico di cui il soggetto abbia sofferto in vita. Tale ossificazione, che si accompagna ad una pneumonizzazione del seno frontale di destra, risulta più evidente quando si paragonino i seni frontali fra di loro. Sul corpo della mandibola, inoltre, non sono rilevabili aree di ostelisi riferibili a granulomi apicali, la qual cosa permette di ipotizzare che il soggetto in questione non fosse affetto da carie e pertanto la rilevata edentulia, paragonata alla relativa giovane età del soggetto, potrebbe essere il risultato di una paradontopatia di cui questi abbia sofferto in vita. Un particolare anatomico rilevabile sul cranio, sia direttamente che su radiogramma, è la presenza di alcune ossa wormiane di varia grandezza distribuite lungo la sutura lambdoidea; inoltre si può rilevare la presenza di una sella turcica di aspetto normale.
Allo scopo di ottenere informazioni più dettagliate sulla mummia, sono stati prelevati da questa alcuni campioni di tessuto osseo, muscolare e cutaneo. Dopo aver sottoposto i campioni di cute e muscolo a reidratazione in soluzione di Sandison, abbiamo proceduto alla colorazione con ematossilina-eosina. Il campione di osso, proveniente dalla fibula sinistra, è stato in un primo momento decalcificato in soluzione di HCl e successivamente colorato in ematossilina-eosina. I preparati istologici allestiti hanno dimostrato uno stato di conservazione ottimale per l’osso, mentre muscolo e cute si sono rivelati rispettivamente in condizioni discrete e pessime. I preparati istologici allestiti mostrano la presenza di un tessuto osseo trofico, ben conservato, con sistemi osteonici attivi e ben organizzati. In molti osteoni é stata evidenziata la presenza di lacune osteocitiche di forma ovale che rappresentano lo spazio occupato in vita dagli osteociti.
Sono state evidenziate anche delle lacune osteoclastiche, specie a livello delle pareti dei canali di Havers. Alla superficie esterna dell’osso é stato possibile evidenziare in alcuni punti uno strato scarsamente eosinofilo, omogeneo, in forma di pellicola di spessore omogeneo, in alcuni punti sfrangiata, nella quale non é riconoscibile, neppure a forte ingrandimento, alcuna struttura: trattasi verosimilmente di quanto rimane del periostio.
Il tessuto muscolare, preventivamente reidratato, sezionato e quindi colorato con ematossilina-eosina, si presenta in buone condizioni di conservazione. Le sezioni, eseguite longitudinalmente rispetto all’andamento delle fibre, mostrano una struttura fibrillare conservata in maniera eccellente, soprattutto evidente all’osservazione alla birifrangenza, mentre non é stato possibile mettere in evidenza le limitanti cellulari.
L’esame istologico del tessuto cutaneo ha dimostrato il pessimo stato di conservazione in cui questo si trova, essendo il tessuto stesso fortemente alterato, di aspetto cribrato, con porosità irregolari e perdita della architettura tissutale; nessuna struttura cutanea o sottocutanea é riconoscibile.
|THE MUMMY FROM TORRICELLA PELIGNA
by Prof. Luigi Capasso,
The discovery of a mummified body beneath the Church of San Giacomo Apostolo at Torricella Peligna is an event of notable historic and scientific importance, which has provided an opportunity for studying the characteristics of this exhibit, especially in relation to its historic-social, anthropological and medical-scientific settings.
Studies carried out have provided certain characteristics concerning the peculiar medical-scientific aspects of this exhibit, in particular the age at death, the sex and height in life, pathological conditions and a determination of the period in which death occurred.
The Mummy of Torricella Peligna is well preserved, but its discovery and removal have led to an interruption of those atmospheric conditions which gave rise to its natural mummification process. This has made it necessary to create a supplementary system for conservation.
The work of restoration allows for elimination (by means of gaseous disinfectants inserted by complicated manoeuvres) of all destructive agents, from the smallest (bacteria), to the macroscopic (insects). The next phase of conservation is based on creating a “confined microclimate”, that is a glass dome with an internal atmosphere of nitrogen, incompatible with any form of life and isolated from the external environment.
Mummification is an exceptional event, since after death a cadaver usually undergoes decomposition leading to skeletonization.
The process of mummification of soft tissues can occur either by natural processes or by artificial manipulation.
Artificial mummification was practiced in ancient Egypt and has preserved numerous mummies to the present day, which are still being studied throughout the world.
Natural mummification happens in a different manner (saponification, mummification in peat, spontaneous mummification), the best known and most common of these is spontaneous mummification.
The process of spontaneous mummification takes place under very precise climatic conditions, when the burial environment is very dry and well aired. This leads to a rapid drying out of the soft tissues and thus blocks the action of autolytic tissue enzymes. Another condition capable of influencing spontaneous mummification is the nutritional state of the subject immediately prior to death, mummification occurs more rapidly and with greater ease in subjects who are cachectic.
Description of the Exhibit
The Mummy under consideration is of a body lying in the supine position, with upper and lower limbs extended, whose overall state of preservation is fairly good although it differs from one part of the body to another.
The head is disarticulated from the body and some parts of the face are without skin, also the right ear’s auricle is missing.
The trunk is in a good state of preservation and the skin is intact, whereas in some points of the upper and lower limbs, parts the skeleton are visible.
Scattered throughout are remains of dead insects which have left evident signs of their demolition work.
The mummified body is of a male subject of adult age. The typical secondary male sexual characteristics are expressed in the head by the general sturdiness of the points of insertion of the muscles of mastication, of the neck and the forehead, from the shape of the mandible which is “stronger” and more square-shaped in the male sex, and also by the greater sturdiness of the various bone segments in general. In our subject these characteristics were evaluated both by direct observation and by X-rays which demonstrate a strong supraciliary arch, the glabella, by views of the neck region and of the zygomatic process of the temporal bone[see diagram of skull in Note 9], moreover the body of the mandible is rather large, the chin is very prominent, with an acute profile and a double protruberance of the chin, whilst the gonion shows an extremely prominent coronoid process, the point of insertion of the very powerful masseter muscle.
At the level of the pelvis there were external genital organs of the male type and corresponding anthropomorphic characteristics of android pelvic bones, the ileac wings were very narrow and vertical and the ischial aperture (pelvic outlet) was narrow.
As far as determining the age at death it was noted that the epiphyses at theextremeties are ossified[see 8] which places the subject in an age-band of over 25 years; this was further confirmed by both direct examination and Xray of the cranial suturesand the degree to which they had become fused. These findings showed that the spheno-occipital suture was partially open, the lambdoid structure was partially reabsorbed in points 1 and 2 as indicated by Meindl and Lovejoy (1985); whilst the coronal and saggital sutures were not easy to evaluate, Xrays indicated a partial degree of reabsorption. Moreover there are the results for the Mandible and Maxilla (the upper jaw) which show a complete absence of teeth, with total resorption of the alveolar processes, indicating that all the teeth had been lost in life. All these points lead to the conclusion that age at death was greater than 50 years.
The height in life, as measured directly on the mummified body was about 164 centimetres.
Investigating the Date of Burial
In order to establish when the body was buried, three samples of some organic material from the burial site itself were analysed for chronology using radiocarbon dating methods.
The materials examined included:
1) fragments of straw taken from the cadaver’s pillow;
2) fragments of wood from the coffin;
3) fragments of human tissue taken from the body itself.
The bones of the body and limbs of the Mummy, excluding the skull, showed no pathological findings.
The skull was studied both directly and on X-ray and showed several pathological features. Overall it shows gross asymmetry, the parietal region is much higher on the right and the left temporal-occipital region is much broader. These features are obvious on X-ray where protrusion of the squama occipitalis is even more evident, giving this individual’s skull the appearance known as Bathrocephaly. There is also a marked asymmetry of the mandible both on inspection and on X-ray which, although accentuated by post-mortem dislocation, shows asymmetry of both the left and the right parts when compared with each other. Other pathological findings were seen at the frontal sinuses which also showed asymmetry, on the left there was much more ossification which could be due to an osteoma or to a chronic inflammatory condition from which the subject suffered in life. This ossification is accompanied by increased air space within the right frontal sinus and becomes even more evident when the frontal sinuses are compared with each other. There are no areas of osteolysis of the body of the mandible, which shows that there were no apical granulomas and that the subject did not suffer from caries and therefore his lack of teeth at this relatively young age was probably due to periodontitissuffered in life. A notable feature of the skull, both on direct examination and on X-ray, is the presence of several Wormian bonesof various sizes distributed along the lambdoid suture[see 9]. The sella turcica is normal.
In order to obtain more detailed information about the Mummy, samples of bone, muscle and skin were obtained. Having rehydrated the skin and muscle samples with Sandison’s solution, we stained them with Haematoxilin-Eosin. The bone sample, which was taken from the left fibula, was first decalcified in a solution of HCl (hydrochloric acid) and then stained with Haematoxylin-Eosin. The histological preparations showed an excellent state of preservation of the bone tissue, whilst the muscle and skin respectively were fair and poor. The histological preparations showed well preserved well-nourished bone tissue, with a well organised and active osteon system. In many osteons there were oval shaped osteocytic lacunae visible which represent the space occupied in life by osteocytes.
Osteoclastic lacunae were also seen especially at the walls of the Haversian Canals. On the outer surface of the bone in some points there was a homogenous, slightly eosinophilic layer, like a filmy-skin of uniform thickness, frayed in places, in which there were no recognisable structures even at high power enlargement: probably this was all that was left of the periosteum.
The muscle tissue, after rehydration, sectioning and staining with Haematoxylin-Eosin, was in a good state of preservation. Sections, made longitudinally with respect to the muscle fibres, showed an excellently preserved fibrillarystructure, especially evident showing as birefringence on polarising microscopy, but it was not possible to show the cell outlines.
Histological examination of the skin tissue proved that it was in a very poor state of preservation, the tissue was greatly altered, with a sieve-like appearance, with irregular holes and loss of tissue structure; no cutaneous or subcutaneous structures were recognisable.
 Saponification in corpses – Saponification can refer to the conversion of fat and other soft tissue in a corpse into adipocere. This process is more common where the amount of fatty tissue is high, the agents of decomposition are absent or only minutely present, and the burial ground is particularly alkaline.
Adipocere or grave wax or mortuary wax is the name for insoluble fatty acids left as a residue; it is formed from pre-existing fats from decomposing material such as a human cadaver. It is formed by the slow hydrolysis of fats in wet ground and can occur in both embalmed and untreated bodies. It is generally believed to have first been discovered by the Frenchman Fourcroy in the 18th century; however, Sir Thomas Browne describes this substance in his discourse, Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial of 1658:
“In a Hydropicall body ten years buried in a Church-yard, we met with a fat concretion, where the nitre of the Earth, and the salt and lixivious liquor of the body, had coagulated large lumps of fat, into the consistence of the hardest castle-soap: wherof part remaineth with us.”
Adipocere inhibits the growth of bacteria, and can go some way to protecting a corpse against decomposition. It begins to form within about a month of death, and can persist on the remains for centuries. Since it forms through hydrolysis, it does so more readily in humid environments or even underwater. An exposed body is unlikely to form deposits of adipocere. The process of adipocere formation is also known as saponification.
 autolytic tissue enzymes = those which self-digest the tissue
 cachectic – Having cachexia, physical wasting with loss of weight and muscle mass due to disease. Patients with advanced cancer, AIDS, and some other major chronic progressive diseases may appear cachectic.
 supraciliary – Of or pertaining to the eyebrows; supraorbital.
 glabella: 1. The area between the eyebrows, just above the nose. 2. The corresponding area on the frontal bone between the eyebrow ridges. From the Latin glabellus, hairless, from glaber, bald.
 gonion – The outer point on either side of the lower jaw at which the jawbone angles upward. [French, from Greek gni, angle. See genu-1 in Indo-European Roots.]
 masseter – the strong muscle at the side of the face which closes the jaw (it is attached above to the zygomatic arch and below to the jawbone)
 ephiphesis (or epiphysis) – (plural epiphesis) – is the “growing” end of a long bone; initially it is separated from the diaphesis (or diaphysis) of the bone by a layer of cartilage, which provides growth, then eventually the cartilage ossifies (hardens and becomes bone) so all the parts of the bone become fused into one solid bone.
The diaphysis is the main, mid section or shaft of a long bone.
Closure of the junction between epiphysis and diaphesis usually occurs at given ages for given long bones – hence the presence or absence of closure can be used to determine the age at death of a skeleton.
There are several different methods used to determine age in a skeleton. If the skeleton belongs to a child one could use erruption patterns of the deciduous teeth or examine the rate of epiphyseal closure.
The picture to the left shows the epiphysis of the femur (F) before and (G) after it unites with the shaft femur.
Different epiphyses unite with their bones at different times and the number of united epiphyses combined with the stage of the other epiphyses can yield an estimate of age.
 Cranial Sutures – Determining the Age of a Skeleton
There are several different methods for determining age in adult skeletons. The most frequently used involves cranial suture closure, since suture closure is part of the aging process and thus the degree in which it is present can indicate the age of a skull or skeleton.. Generally, the coronal, sagittal and lambdoidal sutures are used.
Cranial sutures are the immobile joints between the bones of the skull (or “cranium”).
It is normal for many of the bones of the skull to remain unfused at birth. The term “fontanelle” is used to describe the resulting “soft spots”. The relative positions of the bones continue to change during the life of the adult (though less rapidly than in a child), which can can provide useful information in forensics and archaeology.
The picture below shows the bones of the skull and location of some of the sutures – e.g. the coronal and lambdoidal sutures (the sagittal suture runs along the top middle of the skull).
The five major cranial sutures are :-
§ Metopic, or frontal, suture. Separates the frontal bone into two halves.
§ Sagittal suture. Separates the two parietal bones and extends from the anterior fontanelle to the posterior fontanelle.
§ Coronal suture. Separates the frontal bone from the parietal bone
§ Lambdoid suture. Separates the posterior edge of the of the parietal bone form the occipital bone.
§ Squamosal suture. Superior border of the squamous part of the temporal bone. Anteriorly, it articulates with the greater wing of the sphenoid; superiorly, it articulates with the parietal bone and posteriorly and inferiorly it articulates with the occipital bone.
Bones and sutures of the skull:
(the sagittal suture is not seen here – it runs along the top, middle of the skull, between the coronal and lambdoid sutures)
 Meindl e Lovejoy – American Anthropologists who, in 1985, after studying historical methods and the literature on the subject, published their own methods that they developed for estimating age at death of the skeleton of an unknown person.
 The alveolar process (processus alveolaris) is the thickened ridge of bone that contains the tooth sockets. It is also referred to as the alveolar bone. In humans, the tooth-bearing bones are the maxilla (upper jaw) and the mandible (lower jaw).
 The squama occipitalis is a part of the occipital bone, which is situated at the back and lower part of the cranium. The occipital bone is trapezoid in shape and curved on itself. It is pierced by a large oval aperture, the foramen magnum, through which the brain in the cranial cavity communicates with the spinal cord in the vertebral canal. The occipital bone has three main components:
· The curved, expanded plate behind the foramen magnum is named the squama occipitalis. The squama of the occipital bone, situated above and behind the foramen magnum, is curved both from above downward and from side to side.
· The thick, somewhat quadrilateral piece in front of the foramen is called the basilar part of occipital bone.
· On either side of the foramen are the lateral parts of occipital bone.
 Bathrocephaly – a developmental anomaly characterized by a step-like posterior projection of the skull, caused by excessive bone formation at the lambdoid suture. Bathrocephaly is a variant of posterior sagittal synostosis*, which is characterized by the appearance of a podium (step-like platform) in the occipital region. The posterior portion of the parietal bone slants inferiorly while the occipital bone juts superiorly.
* Sagittal synostosis is the premature closure of the sagittal suture and it results in a long head, termed dolichocephaly or scaphocephaly. Sagittal synostosis has many different forms. The nature of the compensatory growth, and thus the resulting deformity, depends on the location along the sagittal suture at which premature fusion takes place; this location may be anterior, posterior, or both anterior and posterior.
 osteoma – is a benign, slow growing, tumour of bone, found mostly on skull and facial bones; the highest incidence is in the sixth decade. They may simply be a developmental anomaly. The fact they are often found in the auditory canals of swimmers and divers who frequent cold water, however, suggests that in some cases they are due to some type of inflammatory reaction. Osteomas do not usually cause any symptoms, unless their location within the head and neck region is causing problems with breathing, vision, or hearing. Treatment of osteomas is only necessary if they are symptomatic.
 osteolysis – refers to active resorption or dissolution of bone tissue as part of a disease process.
 apical granuloma – A growing mass of granulation tissue(inflammation) surrounding the apex of a non-vital tooth, arising in response to necrosis of the tooth pulp. Also called periapical granuloma, dental granuloma.
A granuloma is a formed by two types of white blood cells; an inner group of macrophages surrounded by a lymphocyte cuff. Granulomas are small nodules that are seen in a variety of diseases.
 periodontitis – a disease involving inflammation of the gums (gingiva) which, after persisting unnoticed for years or decades, results in loss of bone around teeth. This differs from gingivitis, where there is inflammation of the gingiva but no accompanying bone loss; it is the loss of bone around the teeth that differentiates between these two oral inflammatory diseases.
Plaque bacteria and bacterial toxins that accumulate below the gum-line may cause inflammation of the gums, or gingivitis. If gum inflammation persists for enough years it may cause loss of bone around teeth. Over the years, loss of the surrounding bone that holds the teeth in the jaws, may result in the teeth becoming loose and falling out. After tooth decay, periodontitis is the second most important cause of tooth loss.
 Wormian bones – In addition to the usual centres of ossification of the cranium, others may occur, giving rise to irregular isolated bones termed sutural or Wormian bones. They occur most frequently in the course of the lambdoidal suture, but are occasionally seen at the fontanelles, especially the posterior fontanelle. One, called the pterion ossicle, sometimes exists between the sphenoidal angle of the parietal bone and the great wing of the sphenoid bone. Wormian bones have a tendency to be more or less symmetrical on the two sides of the skull, and vary in size. Their number is generally limited to two or three; but more than a hundred have been found in the skull of an adult hydrocephalic subject.
 The Sella turcica (literally Turkish saddle) is a saddle-shaped depression in the sphenoid bone at the base of the human skull. The seat of the saddle is known as the hypophyseal fossa and it holds the pituitary gland.
 Mummified archaeological specimens for histology must first be rehydrated before they can be processed Then the tissues must be adequately supported before they can be cut into the thin sections needed for examination under the microscopice. Whilst normal tissues may be sectioned following a range of preparatory freezing methods, mummified tissues are more commonly taken through a series of reagents and finally infiltrated and embedded in a stable medium which when hard, provides the necessary support for microtomy (cutting into the very thin slices needed for examination under the microscope). This whole treatment is termed “tissue processing”.
 Sandison’s Solution is important in the method for recovery of dried and mummified tissues.
Composition of this Solution (after Sandison):-
 Haematoxylin-Eosin stain – A widely used, two-stage stain for cells in which hematoxylin (a natural blue-purple coloured dye obtained from the heartwood of the “logwood” or “bloodwood” tree) is followed by a counterstain of red eosin (an orange-pink dye derived from coal tar) so that the nuclei stain a deep blue-black and the cytoplasm stains pink.
 osteon – Osteons (also called Haversian system in honor of Clopton Havers) are predominant structures found in some lamellar or compact bone. Osteons run parallel to the long axis of bones. In the center of the osteon is a central canal, sometimes called osteon or Haversian canal. The central canal is surrounded by concentric layers of matrix called lamellae. Collagen fibers in a lamellae run parallel to each other but the orientation of collagen fibers across separate lamellae is oblique.
 osteocytic lacunae –
 osteocytes – an osteoblast that has become embedded within the bone matrix, occupying a bone lacuna and sending, through the canaliculi, slender cytoplasmic processes that make contact with processes of other osteocytes.
 Haversian Canals – Any of the tiny, interconnecting, longitudinal channels in bone tissue through which blood vessels, nerve fibers, and lymphatics pass.
 eosinophilic – is a technical term used by histologists. The context in which this word is used is in describing the microscopic appearance of cells and tissues, as seen down the microscope, after a histological section has been stained with the dye eosin.
Eosinophilic describes the appearance of cells and structures seen in histological sections which take up the staining dye, eosin. This is a bright pink dye that stains the cytoplasm of cells as well as extracellular proteins such as collagen.
Such eosinophilic structures are generally composed of protein.
The stain eosin is usually combined with a stain called haematoxylin to produce a haematoxylin and eosin stained section (also called an H&E, HE or H+E section). This is the most widely used histological stain in medical diagnosis – for example when a pathologist looks at a biopsy of a suspected cancer they will have the section stained with H&E.
Some structures seen inside cells are described as being eosinophilic, for example Lewy bodies, Mallory bodies.
 the periosteum – like a skin for bone, is an envelope of fibrous connective tissue that is wrapped around the bone in all places except at joints (which are protected by cartilage). As opposed to bone itself, it has nociceptive nerve endings which transmit in response to physical pain. It also provides nourishment in the form of blood supply to the bone. The periosteum is connected to the bone by strong collagenous fibers called Sharpey’s fibres, which extend to the outer circumferential and interstitial lamellae of bone. The periosteum contains a store of osteogenic (bone-forming) osteoblasts, and thus plays a vital part in the healing of fractures.
 fibrillary – of or relating to fibrils or fibres; a fibril is a fine fibre approximately 1 nm (nanometre = 109) in diameter
English translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca