DXA have greatly contributed to the development of paleoradiology, a branch of diagnostic imaging that allows to obtain information about human remains in contexts of archaeological and/or forensic interest. In this manuscript we report the unique experience of DXA performed on the relic of a Saint; in particular we analyzed a skeletal fragment of St. Nicholas, kept in the Basilica of Bari (Italy) since 1087. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The bone to be examined consisted of the posterior arch of the ninth left rib that was 12cm long, 1.2cm maximum width and 1.7cm thick at the body. The data acquired from the densitometric study were performed using the anthropometric measures reported in historical records of St. Nicholas' life: sex (male), age (75 years), weight (70kg), height (167cm), and ethnicity (Caucasian). In addition to the examination of the relic, a comparison assessment was made with the rib of a healthy 60 years old man (height of 170cm, without known skeletal pathologies). This sample had a length of 19cm, maximum width at the head 1cm, and 0.7cm thick at the body. The analysis of bone fragments is different from the analysis of bones in the context of the human body (where soft tissues are placed around the skeleton); for this reason, one of the most critical issues was to create a support that would allow the analysis of bone fragments. We simulated conditions similar to those occurring in patients: a density scale was established, using a specific plexiglass phantom on which the bone fragments to be examined were placed. From the analysis it was calculated the parameter bone mineral density (BMD), express in g/cm2, that indicates the relation between mass of bone mineral content and area of examined bone segment. BMD data was compared to a range normalized by age, sex and ethnicity (BMD-N). RESULTS: The results of the scannnig of St. Nicholas' rib showed a BMD of 0.97g/cm2 with a BMD-N between 0.77 and 1.08g/cm2. Simultaneous measurements of the relic compared with a reference rib showed highlighted BMD of 0.84g/cm2 for the relic and 0.50g/cm2 for the reference rib. The St. Nicholas data are 168% higher than reference bone. All our measurements of the relic indicated a high bone mineral density, most likely due to the presence of a high concentration of calcium salts. A relatively higher mineral density of the relic was seen compared to the healthy subject's rib. From the history of St Nicholas' life, we know of the long imprisonment at the age of 51 in damp and unhealthy environment. The results of this study suggest that a good bone mineral density was maintained by the Saint even in old age. An additional element that can influence bone mineral density is diet, certainly different during the time of St. Nicholas. The good bone densitometry indicates that the Saint maintained a proper diet, with a generally fair state of health. CONCLUSION: For this first DXA analysis of the rib relic of Saint Nicholas was necessary a long and complex experimental work to modify standard technique procedure to particular and unusual sample and Create specific supports and complementary instruments. Perform DXA analysis on relics permit to obtain additional information to living conditions, economical situation, behaviours, diet, diseaes, conservations conditions of remains, change of life style in different age. Our experimental work, the first of its kind, creates the way to analyze precious relics that often include only few bone fragments and data obtained by our work can be useful for a better management and movement of fragile relics. We ourselves are working on a new challenge for the analysis of bone finds from shipwrecks found at the bottom of the sea.

THE PALEORADIOLOGY IMPORTANCE IN THE STUDY OF RELICS: THE UNIQUE DENSITOMETRIC ANALYSIS OF A BONE RELIC OF SAINT NICHOLAS

Rubini G
Project Administration
;
Altini C;Nappi AG;Sardaro A;Ferrari C;Introna F
Project Administration
2019

Abstract

DXA have greatly contributed to the development of paleoradiology, a branch of diagnostic imaging that allows to obtain information about human remains in contexts of archaeological and/or forensic interest. In this manuscript we report the unique experience of DXA performed on the relic of a Saint; in particular we analyzed a skeletal fragment of St. Nicholas, kept in the Basilica of Bari (Italy) since 1087. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The bone to be examined consisted of the posterior arch of the ninth left rib that was 12cm long, 1.2cm maximum width and 1.7cm thick at the body. The data acquired from the densitometric study were performed using the anthropometric measures reported in historical records of St. Nicholas' life: sex (male), age (75 years), weight (70kg), height (167cm), and ethnicity (Caucasian). In addition to the examination of the relic, a comparison assessment was made with the rib of a healthy 60 years old man (height of 170cm, without known skeletal pathologies). This sample had a length of 19cm, maximum width at the head 1cm, and 0.7cm thick at the body. The analysis of bone fragments is different from the analysis of bones in the context of the human body (where soft tissues are placed around the skeleton); for this reason, one of the most critical issues was to create a support that would allow the analysis of bone fragments. We simulated conditions similar to those occurring in patients: a density scale was established, using a specific plexiglass phantom on which the bone fragments to be examined were placed. From the analysis it was calculated the parameter bone mineral density (BMD), express in g/cm2, that indicates the relation between mass of bone mineral content and area of examined bone segment. BMD data was compared to a range normalized by age, sex and ethnicity (BMD-N). RESULTS: The results of the scannnig of St. Nicholas' rib showed a BMD of 0.97g/cm2 with a BMD-N between 0.77 and 1.08g/cm2. Simultaneous measurements of the relic compared with a reference rib showed highlighted BMD of 0.84g/cm2 for the relic and 0.50g/cm2 for the reference rib. The St. Nicholas data are 168% higher than reference bone. All our measurements of the relic indicated a high bone mineral density, most likely due to the presence of a high concentration of calcium salts. A relatively higher mineral density of the relic was seen compared to the healthy subject's rib. From the history of St Nicholas' life, we know of the long imprisonment at the age of 51 in damp and unhealthy environment. The results of this study suggest that a good bone mineral density was maintained by the Saint even in old age. An additional element that can influence bone mineral density is diet, certainly different during the time of St. Nicholas. The good bone densitometry indicates that the Saint maintained a proper diet, with a generally fair state of health. CONCLUSION: For this first DXA analysis of the rib relic of Saint Nicholas was necessary a long and complex experimental work to modify standard technique procedure to particular and unusual sample and Create specific supports and complementary instruments. Perform DXA analysis on relics permit to obtain additional information to living conditions, economical situation, behaviours, diet, diseaes, conservations conditions of remains, change of life style in different age. Our experimental work, the first of its kind, creates the way to analyze precious relics that often include only few bone fragments and data obtained by our work can be useful for a better management and movement of fragile relics. We ourselves are working on a new challenge for the analysis of bone finds from shipwrecks found at the bottom of the sea.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11586/284643
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