The mummy of the Lebanese National Hero, Joseph Bey Karam, is an essentially natural mummy, preserved in the Saint Peter Church at Ehden, North Lebanon. We were invited by Lebanese Maronite Christian Authorities to study this mummy in 2013 with the aim of providing the final conservation of the body, that stayed in a macroscopic state of degradation. The micro-morphological and the microbiological analysis of the mummy demonstrate the presence of a series of contaminants that represent a true saprophytic bioma including micro-fungi, bacteria, algae, and macro-organisms, as mites that are represented by some species characteristic of ancient mummified soft tissues. The radiographic analysis demonstrates some completely healed rib fractures, with exuberant bone callus completely ossified. The tomographic analysis showed remains of a densification of the lung tissue on the posterior wall of the left hemithorax. This is consistent with historical information according to which Karam died of pneumonia. In fact, our archival research has enabled us to find the death certificate filled out by pathologist doctor who ascertained the death of the hero on the night of April 7, 1889, when he was in exile in the Italian city of Herculaneum. This study demonstrated the potentiality of the multidisciplinary approach to paleopathological diagnosis, based on both bio-medical aspects as well as on historical documents.

THE MUMMY OF LEBANESE NATIONAL HERO, JOSEPH BEY KARAM (1823-1889): ANTHROPOLOGY, PALEOPATHOLOGY AND PSEUDO-PATHOLOGY

CAPASSO, LUIGI
2016

Abstract

The mummy of the Lebanese National Hero, Joseph Bey Karam, is an essentially natural mummy, preserved in the Saint Peter Church at Ehden, North Lebanon. We were invited by Lebanese Maronite Christian Authorities to study this mummy in 2013 with the aim of providing the final conservation of the body, that stayed in a macroscopic state of degradation. The micro-morphological and the microbiological analysis of the mummy demonstrate the presence of a series of contaminants that represent a true saprophytic bioma including micro-fungi, bacteria, algae, and macro-organisms, as mites that are represented by some species characteristic of ancient mummified soft tissues. The radiographic analysis demonstrates some completely healed rib fractures, with exuberant bone callus completely ossified. The tomographic analysis showed remains of a densification of the lung tissue on the posterior wall of the left hemithorax. This is consistent with historical information according to which Karam died of pneumonia. In fact, our archival research has enabled us to find the death certificate filled out by pathologist doctor who ascertained the death of the hero on the night of April 7, 1889, when he was in exile in the Italian city of Herculaneum. This study demonstrated the potentiality of the multidisciplinary approach to paleopathological diagnosis, based on both bio-medical aspects as well as on historical documents.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11564/652173
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