Mummy autopsy result was wrong
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Posted 30 September 2009 - 07:08 AM
The first scientific autopsy on an ancient Egyptian mummy probably got the cause of death wrong, research suggests. Dr Augustus Bozzi Granville caused a sensation when he described the autopsy to the Royal Society of London in 1825. He concluded the mummified woman, Irtyersenu, died of ovarian cancer.
But a University College London study, published in the Royal Society journal Biological Sciences, strongly suggests she died of tuberculosis. Italian-born Dr Granville, a surgeon and a gynaecologist, had practised medicine across the world, and had survived malaria, bubonic plague and yellow fever. In the mid 19th century interest in Egyptian mummies was intense.
So when one of Dr Granville's patients told him he had brought back a mummy from the necropolis at Thebes still sealed in its coffin he jumped at the chance to investigate further. He carried out a long-lasting and exhaustive study of the tissues.
By studying the thinning of the pelvic bone, he established the woman was 50-55 when she died. He also determined that she was a mother, and overweight. He then found that she had an ovarian tumour, and concluded that this - a condition he called ovarian dropsy - probably caused her death.
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