Bodies, Mummies and Texts for an History of Embalming in Italy


  • Silvia Marinozzi Molecular Medicine Department, “Sapienza” University of Rome, History of Medicine and Bioethics Unit, Rome


Mummies, Embalming history, Italian funerary customs


 In the early 80’s, a systematic investigation was started of the series of mummies from Central and Southern Italy, in particular from important Renaissance depositions. Radiological exams were carried out on each individual, not only to determine the age at death of those subjects lacking any indication of age, but also to detect possible pathological findings. Furthermore, X-rays allow greater understanding of the techniques and the substances used for embalming, including the type of craniotomy, the partial or complete evisceration, and the identification of the embalming substances used to fill the body cavities. The great number of artificial mummies, examined y G. Fornaciari and his equipe, allowed the study of human embalming techniques, related to methods and procedures described by medical and non-medical authors in Early Modern age. The history of the art of mummification has been here reconstructed, from the ‘clyster’ techniques to the partial or total evisceration of the corpses, to the introvascular injection of drying and preserving liquors.