The mummy of the Lebanese national hero, Youssef Bey Karam (1823-1889): an emblematic palaeopathological case.

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Luigi Capasso
Fadi Fenianos
Ruggero D'Anastasio


Anthropology, Paleopathology, bronchopneumonia, pandemic


Youssef Bey Karam was a Lebanese nationalist leader, of a Maronite Christian family, who led the national resistance against the occupation of the Ottoman Empire. He died in exile in Italy in 1889 and his naturally mummified body returned to Lebanon the following year. Here we show the results of the anthropological and paleopathological analyses performed on the mummy during its restoration and preservation. The biological profile that emerged from anthropological investigations corresponds to the Karam's biographical data. The tomographic analyses, in addition to detecting the persistence of the internal organs, highlighted some pathological conditions: multiple healed fractures, osteoarthritis of the lumbar vertebral column, and dental caries with periodontal disease. In particular, the computed tomography showed the thickening of the bronchial tree, and opacity of the pulmonary parenchyma at the level of the hilum of the right lung. These conditions are consistent with a diagnosis of bronchopneumonia, that is the same diagnosis, that was proposed by the pathologist on his death certificate, on 7 April, 1889.

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