Post mortem abnormal modification of bone are known as pseudopathologies. The geochemical characteristic of the burial soil and/or the presence of biological agents may produce marked changes in bone preservation. This could be the case for a young individual, E74, from Herculaneum, which was a Roman town near Naples completely destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. E74 is an incomplete skeleton of a male individual of 7–8 years of age. Its second and third cervical vertebrae, the eighth thoracic vertebra and the first lumbar vertebra show a septum dividing the vertebral foramen. This condition could be diagnosed as diastematomyelia that consists of the splitting of the spinal cord or cauda equina. In particular Type I malformations consist of two hemicords separated into two dural tubes by a bone septum. The gross anatomy and histological aspects of the vertebrae and their septa were investigated through macroscopic, microscopic, radiographic and chemical analyses. The results demonstrate that the vertebral septum is constituted by three layers of inorganic substances deposited at different times on a thin, probably organic, substrate (original meninges?). The centrallayer contain framboidal pyrite, that is a sedimentary mineral rarely found in ancient human skeletons. The septum splitting the vertebral canal of individual E74 is consequent to a taphonomic event and is not due to a pathological condition. Distinguishing between ante and post mortem alterations can be a challenging exercise even for the experienced paleopathologists and, as this case indicates, paleopathological diagnoses should be supported by detailed examinations.

Pseudopathological vertebral changes in a young individual from herculaneum (79 c.e.)

Viciano J.
Penultimo
;
D'anastasio R.
Ultimo
2019

Abstract

Post mortem abnormal modification of bone are known as pseudopathologies. The geochemical characteristic of the burial soil and/or the presence of biological agents may produce marked changes in bone preservation. This could be the case for a young individual, E74, from Herculaneum, which was a Roman town near Naples completely destroyed by the volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. E74 is an incomplete skeleton of a male individual of 7–8 years of age. Its second and third cervical vertebrae, the eighth thoracic vertebra and the first lumbar vertebra show a septum dividing the vertebral foramen. This condition could be diagnosed as diastematomyelia that consists of the splitting of the spinal cord or cauda equina. In particular Type I malformations consist of two hemicords separated into two dural tubes by a bone septum. The gross anatomy and histological aspects of the vertebrae and their septa were investigated through macroscopic, microscopic, radiographic and chemical analyses. The results demonstrate that the vertebral septum is constituted by three layers of inorganic substances deposited at different times on a thin, probably organic, substrate (original meninges?). The centrallayer contain framboidal pyrite, that is a sedimentary mineral rarely found in ancient human skeletons. The septum splitting the vertebral canal of individual E74 is consequent to a taphonomic event and is not due to a pathological condition. Distinguishing between ante and post mortem alterations can be a challenging exercise even for the experienced paleopathologists and, as this case indicates, paleopathological diagnoses should be supported by detailed examinations.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11564/705438
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