Oral and maxillofacial radiology Online only article| Volume 107, ISSUE 6, e58-e64, June 2009

Download started.


Dental status of three Egyptian mummies: radiological investigation by multislice computerized tomography


      The aim of the study was to provide a paleopathologic and radiologic overview of the jaws and teeth of 3 Egyptian mummies preserved in the Civic Museum of History and Art in Trieste. Computerized tomography (CT) imaging and postprocessing techniques were used to examine the oral structures.

      Study design

      A 16-slice CT scanner was used (Aquilion 16; Toshiba Medical Systems Europe, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands). Scans were obtained at high resolution. Orthogonal-plane and 3-dimensional (3D) reconstructions were created along with curved reconstructions of the lower and upper jaws. Determination of decayed/missing teeth (DMT) and decayed/missing/tooth surfaces (DMTs) were made with 3D images.


      Analyses revealed differences in the embalming techniques and state of preservation of the bodies. Marked wear of the occlusal surfaces was a characteristic finding in all of the mummies. The DMT and DMTs were low compared with values for contemporary populations. Two mummies had fully erupted third molars. All mummies exhibited bone changes consistent with periodontitis.


      The CT evaluations of the oral structures of the mummies provided insight into the dental status and oral diseases of these ancient Egyptians. The low DMT and DMTs values and indications of periodontitis may be associated with the lifestyle of these Egyptians. The fully erupted and well aligned third molars may represent a morphologic adaptation of the arches to the muscular activity associated with grinding tough foods.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      1. Vidulli Torlo M. Il civico museo di storia ed arte e l'orto lapidario di Trieste. 1st ed. Ed. Grafiche Biondi, Trieste2005: 1-100
        • Hoffmann H.
        • Torres W.E.
        • Ernst R.D.
        Paleoradiology: advanced CT in the evaluation of nine egyptian mummies.
        Radiographics. 2002; 22: 377-385
        • Gray P.H.K.
        Radiography of ancient Egyptian mummies.
        Med Radiogr Photogr. 1967; 43: 34-44
        • Braunstein E.M.
        • White S.J.
        • Russell W.
        • Harris J.E.
        Paleoradiologic evaluation of the Egyptian royal mummies.
        Skeletal Radiol. 1988; 17: 348-352
        • Dirnhofer R.
        • Jackowski C.
        • Vock P.
        • Potter K.
        • Thali M.J.
        Virtopsy: minimally invasive, imaging-guided virtual autopsy.
        Radiographics. 2006; 26 (Review): 1305-1333
        • Thali M.J.
        • Yen K.
        • Schweitzer W.
        • Vock P.
        • Boesch C.
        • Ozdoba C.
        • et al.
        Virtopsy, a new imaging horizon in forensic pathology: virtual autopsy by postmortem multislice computed tomography (MSCT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—a feasibility study.
        J Forensic Sci. 2003; 48: 386-403
        • Thali M.J.
        • Markwalder T.
        • Jackowski C.
        • Sonnenschein M.
        • Dirnhofer R.
        Dental CT imaging as a screening tool for dental profiling: advantages and limitations.
        J Forensic Sci. 2006; 51: 113-119
        • Dolzani C.
        Mummia egiziana del Civico Museo di Storia ed Arte di Trieste.
        Riv Antropol. 1952; 39: 3-11
        • Dolzani C.
        Sarcofago egiziano con mummia del Civico Museo di Storia Naturale di Trieste.
        Ann Mus Civico Storia Naturale Trieste. 1969; 26: 249-273
      2. Cavalli F. Le mummie egizie del Museo Civico di Trieste attraverso l'analisi mediante TC ad alta definizione: modelli d'indagine e risultati. In: Cavalli F, editor. Imaging in mummiologia ed antropologia fisica. Atti della Giornata di Studi, Gradisca d'Isonzo: Accademia Jaufré Rudel; 2008. p. 39-55.

        • Klein H.
        • Palmer C.E.
        • Knutson J.W.
        Studies on dental caries: dental status and dental needs of elementary schoolchildren.
        Public Health Rep. 1938; 53: 751-756
        • Gardner J.C.
        • Garvin G.
        • Nelson A.J.
        • Vascotto G.
        • Conlogue G.
        Paleoradiology in mummy studies: the Sulman Mummy Project.
        JARC. 2004; 55: 228-234
        • Tomasella F.
        • Cavalli F.
        • Gongolo F.
        • Costantinides F.
        • Melato M.
        Radiological investigation of three Egyptian mummies by multi-slice CT.
        Acta Clinica Croatica. 2005; 44: 36
        • Ruhli F.J.
        • Chhem R.K.
        • Boni T.
        Diagnostic paleoradiology of mummified tissue: interpretation and pitfalls.
        JARC. 2004; 55: 218-227
        • Previgliano C.H.
        • Ceruti C.
        • Reinhard J.
        • Araoz F.C.
        • Diez J.G.
        Radiologic evaluation of the Llullaillaco mummies.
        AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2003; 181: 473-479
        • Boni T.
        • Ruhli F.J.
        • Chhem R.K.
        History of paleoradiology: early published literature, 1896-1921.
        Can Assoc Radiol J. 2004; 55: 203-210
        • Hoffman H.
        • Hudgins P.A.
        Head and skull base features of nine egyptian mummies: evaluation with high-resolution CT and reformation techniques.
        AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2002; 178: 1367-1376
        • Conlogue G.
        • Nelson A.J.
        • Guillen S.
        The application of radiography to field studies in physical anthropology.
        JARC. 2004; 55: 254-257
        • Molnar S.
        Human tooth wear, tooth function and cultural variability.
        Am J Phys Anthropol. 1971; 34: 175-190
        • Ganss C.
        • Klimek J.
        • Borkowski N.
        Characteristics of tooth wear in relation to different nutritional patterns including contemporary and medieval subjects.
        Eur J Oral Sci. 2002; 110: 54-60
        • Kelly J.E.
        • Harvey C.R.
        Basic dental examination findings of persons 1-74 years.
        Basic data on dental examination findings of persons 1-74 years, United States, 1971-1974. US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, Office of Health Research, Statistics, and Technology, National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville (MD)1979
        • Kaste L.M.
        • Selwitz R.H.
        • Oldakowski R.J.
        • Brunelle J.A.
        • Winn D.M.
        • Brown L.G.
        Coronal caries in the primary and permanent dentition of children and adolescent 1-17 years of age: United States, 1988-1991.
        J Dent Res. 1996; 75: 631-641
        • Anderson R.J.
        Changes in dental caries experience of 12-year-old school children in two Somerset schools: a review after an interval of 30 years.
        Br Dent J. 1995; 179: 125-129
        • Harris J.E.
        • Wente E.F.
        Dental disease in the royal mummies.
        in: Harris J.E. Wente E.F. An x-ray atlas of the royal mummies. University of Chicago Press, Chicago1980: 328-345
        • Gay-Escoda C.
        • Piñera-Penalva M.
        • Valmaseda-Castellón E.
        Cordales incluidos. Exodoncia quirurgica. Complicaciones.
        in: Gay-Escoda C. Berini-Aytés L. Tratado de cirurgia bucal, tomo I. 1st ed. Ergon, Madrid2004: 387-457
        • Corruccini R.S.
        Anthropological aspects of orofacial and occlusal variations and anomalies.
        in: Kelly M.A. Larsen C.S. Advances in dental anthropology. Wiley-Liss, New York1991: 295-323
        • Larsen C.S.
        Bioarcheology, interpreting behaviour from the human skeleton.
        in: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge2004: 226-269
        • Kvaal S.I.
        • Kollveit K.M.
        • Thomsen I.O.
        • Solheim T.
        Age estimation of adults from dental radioghraphs.
        Forensic Sci Int. 1995; 74: 175-185
        • Cameriere R.
        • Brogi G.
        • Ferrante L.
        • Mirtella D.
        • Vultaggio C.
        • Cingolani M.
        • Fornaciari G.
        Reliability in age determination by pulp/tooth ratio in upper canines in skeletal remains.
        J Forensic Sci. 2006; 51: 861-864