Minimally-Invasive Bone Biopsies of Fully Wrapped Mummies Guided by Computed Tomography and Fibre-Optic Endoscopy: Suggested Methods and Guidelines
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Recent advances in the recovery and analysis of ancient DNA (aDNA) and application of isotopic analysis of tissue obtained from mummified human remains has been accompanied by continued advances in non-invasive imaging using X-ray computed tomography (CT) and use of minimally invasive surgical techniques employing small fibre-optic endoscopes. We used these state-of-the-art techniques to examine ancient Egyptian mummies in the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection of Berlin, obtaining bone samples for aDNA, stable isotope analyses and radiocarbon dating. CT and endoscopic guidance were applied to locate and biopsy bones using pre-existing access points in order to avoid any further damage to the precious specimens. Here we provide guidelines to obtain bone samples of fully wrapped mummies in a minimally invasive way, by using a combination of computed tomography and endoscopic guided biopsy.