Mummy Had Antibiotic-Resistant Genes: Photos
The mummy is one of 11 stored at a museum in Florence, Italy.
An 11th-century AD mummy with antibiotic-resistant genes (right) is one of 11 other mummies stored at the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology of the University of Florence, Italy. Several of these mummies were in baskets.
Some of the mummies were collected in 1865-68 during a journey around the globe aboard the Pirocorvetta Magenta, a sailing ship with a steam engine.
The basket mummies were prepared by treating the bodies with smoke and arranging them in fetal position before they were wrapped in baskets. Such baskets had openings so that faces of the dead could be seen. The baskets also had handles for hanging in family tombs. The cold and dry climate of the Andes made the rest, producing a natural mummification.
Other mummies in the Florence collection were not placed in baskets. The one to the left, still in fetal position, is wrapped in a red cloth. Skin layers of the entire body are perfectly preserved. The researchers, led by Gino Fornaciari, professor of history of medicine and paleopathology at the University of Pisa, found traces of remains of Diptera, the first species of insect that colonize the body after death. The insects are native to South America and reached the body shortly after death. The other mummy, to the right, likely belongs to a boy.
Other mummies revealed evidence of diseases. The one to the right, belonging to an adult male of about 30 years of age, was diagnosed with bronchopneumnia and atheriosclerosis (carbon dust in the lungs) despite the individual's young age.
Most mummies showed traces of anthracosis, which can be easily explained by the exposure since early childhood to fires extensively used for cooking and heating.