Dario Piombino-Mascali

Researcher at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy of Bolzano and co-author with Arthur C. Aufderheide, Melissa Johnson Williams and Albert R. Zink of the study “The Salafia Method Rediscovered,” published in The European Journal of Pathology. The spirit of the researcher was awakened in him for the first time at the age of eight, when in February of 1985 vandals deturparono with oil paint green mummies preserved in the Crypt of the Capuchins in Savoca, near his native town of Messina. Not new to abnormal requests of this kind, Dario Piombino-Mascali asked his father to take him to that mysterious place, to quench his curiosity as a researcher in the grass, that already before, had led him to admire the Blessed Eustochia da Messina and its scary story. The childish imagination took concrete form, however, the University of Pisa, where anthropology epaleopatologia would have won forever, directing his research on mummies Sicily. And it is the picturesque rural villages neighbors Savoca, Piraino, Saint Lucia del Mela, Novara di Sicilia, Militello Rosemary and the famous Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo that the young researcher focused his attention. Defying superstition has cataloged thousands of mummies of the late modern age, classifying them by sex, age and type of mummification along with meticulous historical research in the archives of the parish.

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The catacombs of Palermo

The Capuchin monastery in Palermo is known throughout the world for its presence in the basement of a cemetery that attracts the curiosity of many tourists. The macabre spectacle of countless dead bodies is exposed for reflection on the transience of life, the earthly vanity and futility of attachment of men to their external features. The tunnels were dug at the end of ‘500 and form a large rectangular cemetery. The bodies found were never reported, but it is estimated that there are up to 8,000. The mummies, standing or lying down, dressed to the teeth, are divided by gender and social category, although most belong to the upper class, as the embalming process was expensive. In the different fields can be recognized: the prelates, merchants and burghers in their clothes “Sunday”; army officers in gala uniform, young virgins, died before they could marry, dressed with their wedding dress, family groups arranged in standing on high shelves, separated by thin railings similar to balconies; children. The method of embalming included first of all the “draining” (natural technique of dehydration of the soft parts, related video: 8’40”) of the body for about a year, after it has been emptied of internal organs. Body more or less dried, was then washed with vinegar filled with straw, and covered with his clothes. Other methods, used especially in times of epidemics, included a bath of arsenic or lime water. With the advent of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, the new health and hygiene regulations prevented the drying procedures, but the use of mummification continued to be practiced until the beginning of ‘900. Since the beginning of the rest of the 800 Sicily boasted a school anatomy of the great masters (among others, the physician Joseph Tranchina, which should be ascribed the same name preservation method for injection of arsenic that without evisceration, practiced immediately after death, allowed a perfect mummification in four months), refining the techniques for the preparation of whole bodies and body parts for educational purposes, had developed sophisticated solutions to artificial embalming.

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The secrets of the mummy girl

What secrets preserves Rosalia Lombardo, the “Sleeping Beauty” of the Catacombs of Palermo, rightly considered the most beautiful mummy in the world? What alchemy allowed the perfect preservation of a two year old girl, almost a century after his death? Who was responsible?

What secrets preserves Rosalia Lombardo, the “Sleeping Beauty” of the Catacombs of Palermo, rightly considered the most beautiful mummy in the world? What alchemy allowed the perfect preservation of a two year old girl, almost a century after his death? Who was responsible? These questions remained unresolved for a long time, finally found the answer through research paleopathologist Dario Piombino-Mascali. A fascinating reconstruction of the story that binds the small Rosalia Lombardo Alfredo Salafia, Palermo taxidermist and inventor of innovative compound for embalming human corpses.

Focus of attention of the scientist was the mummy of Rosalia Lombardo, who died in 1920 at the age of two years and embalmed by Alfredo Salafia Sicilian taxidermist, who in 1899 obtained permission to experiment with his innovative mixture on human corpses in the School of Anatomical Professor Randaccio, which was later successfully presented all’Eclectic Medical College in New York (video related 4’45”).

The child appeared to be a little angel asleep, a ray of light in the darkness of the underworld, with golden curls that fell over his forehead and appearance make it look so authentic that alive, but sunk into a deep sleep.

But how was it possible to stop the moment of death? Research frantic finally gave their fruit when Mascali reached Anna, granddaughter of Salafia: after eight years of investigation, there appears the manuscript with valuable chemical formula that had allowed Salafia to embalm corpses illustrious as that of the statesman Francesco Crispi : “This is an injection of a mixture of formalin, glycerin, zinc salts, alcohol and salicylic acid, which one could add a treatment of the face with paraffin dissolved in ether, to maintain an aspect of the living face and rounded», explains Dario Piombino-Mascali. During the research it was also thought to how to ensure the preservation of the body of Rosalia Lombardo. “Now that we know the method of embalming to which the body has been subjected, we initiate a study conservatively to preserve the little mummy from further degradation,” says Albert Zink, director of EURAC. The discovery, which the National Geographic in a report dedicated assigns an important historical and physician, is one of the first examples of the use of formaldehyde for embalming human. The revolutionary contribution of Salafia Dario Piombino Mascali has dedicated the book The teacher of the eternal sleep.

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Exorcism Coin Previews

Photograph by Gu Xiangzhong, Xinhua/Corbis

A supposed supernaturalism coin adorns the chest of the new Chinese “wet mummy.”

“My guess would be that the coin was placed on the body as a form of charm against malevolent influences,” Brook aforementioned.

Still unknown is whether or not the lady was buried with any written documents or inscribed pottery—a common apply in Ming-dynasty China.

“If you were an individual of any importance, you had somebody write a [remembrance] or a quick story,” Brook aforementioned, “and that story would usually be denote at the burying ground and a replica buried with you further, to spot UN agency you are” within the life.

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Highway to Heaven previews

Photograph by Jia Hongwei, Imaginechina/AP

On March one a crowd of Chinese archaeologists, reporters, and onlookers stand at the roadwork web site wherever the Ming dynasty dynasty-era body was found.

During the dynasty, preservation when death was thought to “reflect your purity” in life, Brook explained.

Had this woman’s family renowned her body would be preserved for quite 600 years, they’d are very proud, he added.

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Watery Grave previews


Photograph by Gu Xiangzhong, Xinhua/Corbis

Submerged within the dark-brown liquid that probably preserved it, the dynasty dynasty-era mummy lies in her wood coffin before her removal on March one.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Mair thinks the liquid is oxygen-poor water that leaked into the coffin and not any sort of special preservation fluid.

Published March ten, 2011

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Water Bed previews

Photograph from Barcroft/Fame photos

The new mummy rests on a plastic sheet once being aloof from her flooded coffin on March one.

In ancient China, it had been believed that the fresh dead would seem before supernatural judges.

“If you were found to be virtuously worthy,” Brook explained, “you would be sent off for reincarnation—as a divinity if you were fantastic, as a person’s being if you were sensible, as AN animal if you were less sensible, and as a bug or a worm if you’d been very dangerous.”

(Related: “Egypt Pictures: Roman-Style Mummy, Tombs Found.”)

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Good Hair Day reviews


Photograph by Gu Xiangzhong, Xinhua/Corbis

A deposit employee removes the feminine mummy’s cap on March three, revealing hair control in situ by a still bright silver hairpin—a fairly customary example of the kind worn by Ming-dynasty girls, Brook said.

Neither Brook nor the University of Pennsylvania’s Mair recognize why the wet mummy’s head seems artificial purple below her cap, although Mair speculates it’s going to ought to do with natural minerals within the water.

The woman’s age at death is unknown, however her unlined face suggests she was fairly young.

“She’s actually AN adult,” Brook aforementioned. “She’s not AN recent lady.”

(Also see “Pictures: Mummy Bundles, kid Sacrifices Found on Pyramid.”)

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You Can’t Take It With You? reviews


You Can’t Take It With You?
Photograph by Gu Xiangzhong, Xinhua/Corbis

A employee from the Taizhou depository cleans the Chinese wet mummy’s giant jade ring on March three.

Jade was related to longevity in ancient China. however during this case, the jade ring was “probably a symptom of her wealth rather than a symptom of any concern concerning the lifetime,” Brook aforementioned.

(Related: “Korean Mummies Reveal Medical Clues, Love Poems.”)

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Red-Glove Service reviews


Photograph by Gu Xiangzhong, Xinhua/Corbis

Staff members from China’s Taizhou repository fastidiously raise the mummy—one of 3 found throughout a road expansion—from her picket coffin on March one.

The totally dressed, 5-foot-long (1.5-meter-long) body was buried with luxury things, as well as a jade ring, a silver pin, and quite twenty items of Ming-dynasty article of clothing.

The lack of distinguishing badge like a phoenix or dragon, though, suggests the wet mummy wasn’t royal, aforesaid Timothy Brook, a scholar at the University of British Columbia’s Institute of Asian analysis.

“Her headgear is kind of standard,” Brook aforesaid. “There’s nothing that sets her excluding anyone else. … She was in all probability simply a well-off person.”

(See an image of another healthy Chinese mummy.)

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