Tags: old | brains | unearthed | Turkey

Brains Buried for Millennia Unearthed in Turkey

Monday, 07 Oct 2013 10:53 PM

By Amy Woods

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Turkish scientists from Haliç University in Istanbul say they have found a 4,000-year-old human brain from the Seyitömer Höyük settlement in the western reaches of Turkey.

The fossilized specimen, preserved by what researchers describe as corpse wax, looks burned, charred and black but is thought to be intact enough to study, Fox News reported.

The organs were unearthed between 2006 and 2011, during digs of four skeletons. The skeletons were sealed in sediment after a fire that was preceded by an earthquake leveling the area and burying its inhabitants.

"The level of preservation in combination with the age is remarkable," said Frank Rühli, of the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

Rühli said the find is rare because Bronze Age brain tissue seldom is preserved. He said the fire boiled the tissue, trapping it from exposure to oxygen and moisture for millennia.

Also, the soil in which the brains were buried carries such elements as aluminum, magnesium and potassium, which produce adipocere, or corpse wax, Fox News reported.

Rühli said the scientists will be able to study pathological conditions in the brains, tumors, and the presence of degenerative diseases.

"If we want to learn more about the history of neurological disorders, we need to have tissue like this," he said.

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