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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

MUMMIFICATION

143

Ash  %
Buttock,
Mesentery,

Ethereal extract  %
0.4                         7.35

0.7                         80.0

UnsaponiSable matter %
231
48.7

No soap was found. The fatty matter obtained from the preservative spirit consisted
of free fatty acids, viz. stearic and palmitic acids. No ammonia could be found. The
ash from the tissues sent contained lime, soda and potash compounds.

9.   MUMMIFICATION

Tha, term, mummification, is
applied to a peculiar desiccation
of a dead body, whereby its soft
parts shrivel up, but retain the
natural appearance and even the
features of the body. The skin is
dry, leathery and rusty-Brown in
colour, and adheres closely to the
bones. Tike odour is more like
that of old cheese than that of a
decomposed body. The internal
organs either disappear alto-
gether, or blend together and get
transformed into a thick mass of
a dark-brown, dry substance,
from which they cannot be sepa-
rately distinguished,

Miinomification occurs in bodies
buried in shallow graves in the
dry, sandy soils of Rajputana,
Sind, and Baluchistan, where
evaporation of the body fluids is
very rapid owing to hot, dry
winds prevailing in the summer
season. It is observed also in the
bodies of newly born infants kept
perched up on trees, or rafters
of a roof, as also in those kept
closed in steel trunks. Chronic
arsenic or antimony poisoning is!
said to favour the process of
mummification in dry, warm
climates.

Fig. 40.A mummified body.

(From a photograph lent kindly by

Dr. G. B. Sahay.)

Time of Mummification.  The time taken by a dead body to mummify
is not exactly known, but it may be regarded as varying from three mqntljs
to a year or two.

method of mtimmifying or embalming dead bodies was
known to the ancient Egyptians, and specimens of their mummies are to
be found in the British Museum of London in a very well preserved condi-
tion after thousands of years. At present it is resorted to in medical schools
and colleges to preserve dead bodies for the purpose of dissection by inject-
ing solutions of arsenic, lead sulphide_gnd^H^siim ca

,                      _

femoral artery or into the aorta.   The process has someSmes to be adopted
when dead bodies have to be taken from one country to another for wrial,
and Tjrben the time taken in transit is so much as would ordinarily
putrefaction.