Differential findings in post-factum dissections of medieval Korean mummies exhibiting similar preservation patterns on computerized tomography images

Chang Seok Oh, Sang Yoon Lee, In Sun Lee, Yi Suk Kim, Ki Seok Koh, Dong Hoon Shin

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In our previous CT and post-factum dissection studies on medieval Korean mummies, well preserved internal organs generally were found to have been displaced to the dorsal side of the body cavity. This movement seems to have been caused by the effect of gravitational force exerted over long burial durations. However, when we recently examined a newly discovered medieval Korean mummy (SN1-2) by CT, most of the mummified organs were found to have remained in their natural positions. Our post-factum dissection of SN1-2 showed that the organs might have undergone expansion by posthumous gas formation, after which they hardened into a stone-like state, which mitigated against their displacement. Similar CT findings were made in the case of a second Korean mummy (KU-1). Since the internal organs within the thoracic cavity were discovered to be in their natural positions, we suspected that they, like those in the case of SN1-2, had also been changed into stony structures. However, the post-factum dissection showed that the internal organs of KU-1 had neither hardened nor been displaced to the back wall of the thoracic cavity, owing possibly to the presence of a pleural adhesion. Overall, our results indicated that CT alone might be inadequate for correct estimation of the preservation status of internal organs in Korean mummies. This calls for further accumulation of dissection data, against which CT diagnoses can be compared and by which they can be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-549
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Anatomy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2011


  • Computerized tomography
  • Internal organ
  • Korea
  • Mummy
  • Post-factum examination

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