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The 'Iceman': molecular structure of 5200-year-old skin characterised by Raman spectroscopy and electron microscopy.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta
0006-3002
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
1246
Issue
1
Pages
98–105
Identifiers
PMID: 7811737
Source
Medline

Abstract

The molecular state of about 5200-year-old skin from the so-called 'Iceman' (Similaun man or Otzi) has been characterised using Fourier transform Raman spectroscopy, and has been compared with that of contemporary man. Contemporary skin was also freeze-dried (to mimic the conditions under which the ancient skin was preserved) and its molecular structure was compared with that of Iceman skin. The results showed that the proteinaceous moiety of the ancient skin had degraded considerably and, although olefinic bonds had probably oxidised, the lipoidal component was largely unaltered. Electron microscopical comparisons of Iceman and contemporary skin showed that the gross structure of Iceman skin had survived essentially intact for five millennia.

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