Renaissance and Modern Age Funerary Embalming in the Basilica of St. Dominic Major in Naples (15th -18th Centuries)


  • Silvia Marinozzi Department of Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome
  • Antonio Fornaciari Department of Civilizations and Forms of Knowledge, University of Pisa


Embalming, Mummies, Renaissance, Naples, Aristocracy


In the middle 1980’s, a systematic investigation was started on the series of tombs in the Sacristy of the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, with 20 well-preserved mummified bodies. X-ray and autopsies were performed on each individual for palaeopathological study. These examinations allowed for a better understanding of the techniques for embalming, and they included different modes of evisceration, craniotomy type, and identification of the embalming materials used to fill the body cavities. Embalming in the Renaissance became a true surgical practice and, in the contemporary surgical literature, the Authors provided an accurate description of the embalming methods: craniotomy, total or partial evisceration, defleshing, washing or immersion in preserving fluids, filling with embalming materials, wrapping with bandages, dressing of the body and final deposition in coffin.