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May 16, 1908


JAMA. 1908;L(20):1610. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02530460034004

The influence of time on matter has always a rare fascination for the scientific mind, most particularly so when it concerns the products of human endeavors. Egypt has furnished us with our most valuable information on this subject, and recently the Government School of Medicine at Cairo has been putting out some most intensely interesting reports concerning observations on the anatomic conditions of mummies from different periods.

We have found especially absorbing a study of the biologic chemistry of mummies by W. A. Schmidt,1 in which the most modern methods of analysis have been applied to the oldest human materials that now exist. Mummies of different ages were examined, some dating back to prehistoric times, before even the Egyptians began the practice of embalming, some 6,000 years ago. Yet even in these most ancient of materials the original composition of the tissue elements has been so well preserved that

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