The Inca collection (13th-15th century AD) from the Boccolari-Parenti collection (Modena, Italy): preliminary bioanthropological and paleopathological analyses

Main Article Content

Mirko Traversari
Adriana Latorre
Cristiana Zanasi
Elena Righi
Ilaria Pulini
Irene Faenza
Sara Salucci
Gianandrea Pasquinelli
Luca Ventura


Paleopathology, Inca mummy, bioanthropological collection


The section on Ancient Peru of the Civic Museum of Modena preserves a valuable collection of materials recovered by Antonio Boccolari and Paolo Parenti, two officers of the Italian navy who were part of the crew of the Corvetta Vettor Pisani, during his voyage of circumnavigation of the globe, towards the end of the 19th century. In the collection, there is an intact mummy and several heads from the Necropolis of Ancón, which can be traced back to a cultural horizon between the 11th century AD and the final period of the Inca Empire (1532). The mummy was subjected to direct inspection, a CT scan was performed at the Policlinico of Modena then several skulls were taken for histological investigations, FTIR spectroscopic studies, radiocarbon dating and genetic study. CT dataset was also used for virtual facial reconstruction. The analysis of the biological profile indicates the sex of the mummy as female, with an age at death of 17-20 years, large skin folds suggest the presence of body fat. The anthropometric evaluation demonstrates a good bone consistency, without indices of strength, the skull has received an anthropogenic modification. The CT scan shows a part of the trachea and esophagus, a large part of the diaphragm, probably the two kidneys, plus different vascular structures are still visible. CT scan also revealed teeth spread throughout the body of the mummy. Numerous cotton seeds were found in the abdomen, probably the result of a rodent burrow. Considering the level of skeletonization reached by the seven skulls and the single calvarium, the investigation applied was the direct analysis. Interesting is the presence of auricular exostosis in a male individual (Id.  4), a condition that develops mainly due to environmental factors; in the case of ancient populations, as in our case study, the presence of this character is probably attributable to the action of spearfishing. The cranial indicators obtained reveal a general brachycephalic index (a skull with a decreased antero-posterior diameter). Additionally, in the case of Id. 1, 5, 6, and the mummified girl, a hyperbrachycephalic index is observed.
Abstract 55 | PDF Downloads 47


Acsadi, G., & Nemeskeri, J. (1970). History of human life, span and mortality, Budapest, Akadèmiai Kiadó.
Aufderheide, C., & Martìn, C.R. (2006). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Paleopathology, Cambridge and New York, Cambridge University Press.
Bongers, J.L., Muros, V., O'Shea, C., Gómez Mejía, J., Cooke, C.A., Young, M., & Barnard, H. (2023). Painting personhood: Red pigment practices in southern Peru. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, 69, 101480.
Brothwell, D.R. (1989). The relationship of tooth wear to ageing, in M.Y. Iscan (Ed.) Age Markers in the Human Skeleton (pp. 303-316). Charles C. Thomas, Springfield.
Bruzek, J. (2002). A method for visual determination of sex, using the human hip bone. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, CXVII, 157-168.
Buikstra, J. E., & Ubelaker, D. (1994). Standards for data collection from human skeletal remains. Research series no. 44. Arkansas archeological survey research series no 44, Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Clarisa Watson Jiménez, L. (2019). Los fardos de Ancòn-Perù (800 d.C.-1532 d.C. Una perspectiva bioarqueològica de los cambios sociales en la Costa Central del Perù. BAR International series 2957, Oxford.
Capasso, L., Kennedy, K., & Wilczak, C. (1999). Atlas of occupational markers on human remains. Edigrafital S.p.a, Teramo.
Cockburn, T.A., Cockburn, E., & Reyman, T.A. (1998). Mummies, desease and ancient cultures, 2nd edition (pp. 154-232). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Lovejoy, O.C. (1985). Dental wear in the Libben population: Its functional pattern and role in the determination of adult skeletal age at death. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, LXVIII, 47-56.
Mariotti, V., Facchini, F., & Belcastro, M.G. (2007). The Study of Entheses: Proposal of a Standardised Scoring Method for Twenty-Three Entheses of the Postcranial Skeleton. Collegium Antropologicum, 31(1), 291-313.
Mariotti, V., Facchini, F., & Belcastro, M.G. (2004). Enthesopathies – Proposal of a Standardized Scoring Method and Applications. Collegium Antropologicum, 28(1), 145-159.
Martin, R., & Saller, K. (1957). Lehrbuchder Antropologie. Fisher, Stoccarda.
Meindl, R.S., & Lovejoy, C.O. (1985). Ectocranial suture closure: a revised method for the determination of skeletal age at death based on the lateral-anterior sutures. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, LXV, 57-66.
Pardini, E. (sd). I calvari della necropoli di Ancon, Istituto di Antropologia dell’Università di Firenze, Archivio per l’Antropologia e I’Etnologia.
Ortner, D.J. (2003). Identification of pathological conditions in human skeletal remains. Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego.
Pearson, K. (1899). Mathematical contributions to the theory of evolution. V. On the reconstruction of the stature of prehistoric races. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society A, CLXXXIXII, 169-244.
Traversari, M., Demarchi, B., Biselli, A., Tei, F., Cilli, E., D’altri, G., & Ventura, L. (2023). Endocranial mice nesting in the body of the Blessed Antonio da Fano (dead 1435). Journal of Bioarchaeological Research, 1, e2023004.
Ventura, L., Petrella, E., Piciucchi, S., Cilli, E., Luiselli, D., Feeney, R.N.M., & Traversari, M. (2021). Giant cell tumor of bone in an eighteenth-century Italian mummy. Virchows Archiv, 479, 1255-1261.
Traversari, M., Serrangeli, M.C., Catalano, G., Petrella, E., Piciucchi, S., Feletti, F., Oxilia, G., Cristiani, E., Vazzana, A., Sorrentino, R., De Fanti, S., Luiselli, D., Calcagnile, L., Saragoni, L., Feeney, R.N.M., Gruppioni, G., Cilli, E., & Benazzi, S. (2019). Multi-analytic study of a probable case of fibrous dysplasia (FD) from certosa monumental cemetery (Bologna, Italy). International Journal of Paleopathology, 25, 1-8.
Trotter, M., & Gleser, G.C. (1952). Estimation of stature from long bones of American Withes and Negroes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, X, 463-514.
Trotter, M., & Gleser, G.C. (1958A). A re-valuation of estimation of stature based on measurements of stature taken during life and of long bones after death. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, XVI, 79-123.
Trotter, M., & Gleser, G.C. (1958B). Corrigenda to estimation of stature from long limb bones of American whites and negroes. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, XLVII, 355-356.
Velasco, M.C. (2018). Ethnogenesis and Social Difference in the Andean Late Intermediate Period (AD 1100–1450): A Bioarchaeological Study of Cranial Modification in the Colca Valley, Peru. Current Anthropology, 59(1), 98-106.
Walker, P.L., Bathurst, R.R., Richman, R., Gjerdrum, T., & Andrushko, V.A. (2009). The causes of Porotic Hyperostosis and Cribra Orbitalia: a reappraisal of the Iron-Deficiency_Anemia hypothesis. America Journal of Physical Anthropology, 139, 109-125.
Wang, T., McFadden, C., Buckley, H., Domett, K., Willis, A., Trinh, H.H., Matsumura, H., Vlok, M., & Oxenham, M.F. (2023). Paleoepidemiology of cribra orbitalia: Insights from early seventh millennium BP Con Co Ngua, Vietnam. American Journal of Biological Anthropology, 181(2), 250-261.
Yoga Pratiwi, R. (2021). Porotic Hyperostosis and Cribra Orbitalia as Indicators of Nutritional Problems in Ancient Population. Indian Journal of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, 15(4), 2205-2212.

Most read articles by the same author(s)