From Biography to Osteobiography: An Example of Anthropological Historical Identification of the Remains of St. Paul

ABSTRACT

In the identification process of historical figures, and especially in cases of Saint’s bodies or mummified remains, any method that includes physical encroachment or sampling is often not allowed. In these cases, one of the few remaining possibilities is the application of nondestructive radiographical and anthropological methods. However, although there have been a few attempts of such analyses, no systematic standard methodology has been developed until now. In this study, we developed a methodological approach that was used to test the authenticity of the alleged body of Saint Paul the Confessor. Upon imaging the remains on MSCT and post-processing, the images were analyzed by an interdisciplinary team to explore the contents beneath the binding media (e.g., the remains) and to obtain osetobiographical data for comparison with historical biological data. Obtained results: ancestry, sex, age, occupation, and social status were consistent with historical data. Although the methodological approach proved to be appropriate in this case, due to the discrepancy in the amount of data, identity could not be fully confirmed. Nonetheless, the hypothesis that the remains do not belong to St. Paul was rejected, whilst positive identification receives support. Anat Rec, 300:1535–1546, 2017. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

 

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