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Wednesday, May 31 • 3:30pm - 4:00pm
087. (Objects) Sampling of microorganisms from Egyptian mummies at the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: A successful adaptation of a vacuum cleaner model

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The sampling of archaeological materials is expected to preserve their structure from physical damage like breaking or crumbling. Sampling devices have to be adequate to the characteristics of surface and the kind of material to be collected. Pulverized samples are the source of biological structures like parasite eggs, spores, pollen, etc., that can be collected in archaeological materials. Tools such as tweezers, scissors, swabs and scalpels may not be able to capture them, especially if the material to be sampled is trapped in textiles, inside the roughness of irregular surfaces, or even in the holes and gaps of mummified packs. The use of the conventional devices described above to collect multiple samples demands multiple sterile devices and specific storage procedures. In order to save time, preventing cross-contamination and improving the collection of pulverized samples in different conditions an adapted mini vacuum cleaner (MVC) was developed and tested in a recent study that aimed to evaluate the fungal contamination at two Egyptian mummies from National Museum of Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. 
The adaptation consisted of adapting a connection tube to the vacuum cleaner in order to use disposable pipette tips protected with cottons pellets inside to do the sampling. Disposable urethral catheters were connected at tips when necessary, to sample inside narrow spaces. From 20 samples collected from bodies with conventional devices and mini vacuum cleaner, 12 fungi strains were isolated and 7 different fungi genera could be previously identified. Of these, 13 samples were aspirated by vacuum cleaner from surface and small gaps on both mummies and from the plastic capsule  was keeping the mummy of Hori, allowing isolate 8 fungi strains belongs to 5 different genera, as Cladosporium isolated from both mummies. However, 6 samples were negative to fungal growth. 
The use of a vacuum cleaner seems to be a great deal better at collecting pulverized samples, due to its minimum contact with substrates, and the preservation of samples. Positive results for the fungal development showed that the use of the device did not affect the viability of fungal propagules, allowing their isolation and identification. We also observed time saving when a vacuum cleaner was used compared with conventional devices. New adaptations on vacuum cleaners could be necessary in the future to get more satisfactory and accurate results. Finally, the authors recommend the use of this device not only for mummies, but also for other archaeological materials.

avatar for Ricardo Reis

Ricardo Reis

Professor of Biology, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Sergio Arouca - ENSP/Fiocruz
Biology Teacher /Biologist; Master in Public Health


Wednesday May 31, 2017 3:30pm - 4:00pm CDT
Riverside West Exhibit Hall Exhibit Level, East Tower

Attendees (9)