Washington, July 31 : A team of scientists has found the first indication for embalming in Roman Greek times.
By means of physico-chemical and histological methods, the Swiss-Greek research team showed that various resins, oils and spices were used during embalming of a 55-year-old female in Northern Greece.
The remains of the 55-year old female, which date back to 300 AD, shows the preservation of various soft-tissues, hair and part of a gold-embroidered silk cloth.
This unique find allows multidisciplinary research on these tissues.
In addition to macroscopic and anthropological analyses, electron microscopy and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry examinations were also performed.
These showed the presence of various embalming substances including myrrh, fats and resins, but could not demonstrate clearly a conservatory influence of the surrounding lead coffin from Roman period.
The findings significantly increase knowledge about the use of tissue-preserving, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidative substances in the mortuary practices of Roman Greece.
According to Christina Papageorgopoulou, study initiator and assistant at the Institute of Anatomy University of Zurich, "Never before such embalming substances have been shown for this time period in Greece."
Up to now, only written historic sources suggested that selected people were embalmed in Roman Greece.
The application of most modern analytic natural science methods allowed an enormous gain in knowledge particularly in the field of archaeology, and points towards possible future collaborations of social and natural scientists, added Christina.