Saturday, November 2, 2013

Henri, or not Henri?

That is the question currently being debated among pathologists and forensic anthropologists. The mummified head and vertebrae (IMAGE ABOVE) was found in 1919 in the Royal Basilica of St. Denis and purported to be that of King Henry IV of France (1553-1610). After surfacing in a private collection, the head was identified in 2010 on the basis of CT imaging and digital facial reconstruction by a multidisciplinary team led by French medical examiner and forensic osteo-archaeologist Philippe Charlier. "We don't have any DNA, but we can manage without it," he said, citing several factors, including a mushroom-like growth on the nose and evidence of a pierced right ear. But now researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium have conducted a genetic analysis so convincing that 2 members of the original team have asked the British Medical Journal to retract the earlier study. The new study, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, states that the remains could not possibly be those of the assassinated French king. Meanwhile, the unidentified mummified head remains in a Parisian bank vault awaiting reburial.

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