Archaeology: mummies reveal children's life in 1800s

Palermo project by the Arts and Humanities Research Council

01 February, 14:59

    (ANSAmed) - PALERMO, FEB 1 - A project promoted and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council will look at mummies in Palermo to learn about the lifestyles, habits, nutrition, illnesses and even the causes of death of children who lived in the 19th century.

    The project is being led by Kirsty Squires, a bioarchaeologist at the University of Staffordshire, and coordinated by anthropologist Dario Piombino-Mascali.

    The investigation, currently in the first radiological phase, will examine the bodies of 43 mummified children kept in the Catacombs of the Capuchins, where Piombino-Mascali is the curator.

    The thousands of mummified bodies include that of little Rosalia, the most famous of the embalmed girls, who for a hundred years has maintained a living and uncontaminated image in a high-tech cradle.

    The mummified body of Rosalia, however, is not included in the case studies.

    This research project in Palermo, which is being carried out with non-invasive methods, has never been done before on children.

    Information in the archives will accompany the information gathered with advanced tools and supports.

    "We are working on a multidisciplinary project that will allow us to shed new light on children whose families could afford an expensive process such as mummification in the nineteenth century in Palermo," said Kirsty Squires.

    "We will be able to understand a lot about childhood in that period: health, development, social identity and even the way of perceiving life," she said.

    Superintendent Selima Giuliano said the project will offer insight into the Sicily of the past, which is essential for understanding the present.

    Regional culture heritage councillor Alberto Samonà said the study allow for deeper data about a unique and unparalleled historical and cultural heritage.(ANSAmed).

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