Secret formula behind “Sleeping Beauty” mummy found

January 27th, 2009 - 1:30 pm ICT by ANI  

National Geographic

Washington, Jan 27 (ANI): An Italian biological anthropologist has discovered the secret formula that conserved the body of one of the world’’s best-preserved bodies a two-year-old Sicilian girl also known as “Sleeping Beauty,”

Rosalia Lombardo died of pneumonia in 1920 and her coffin is kept at Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Italy.

Dario Piombino-Mascali of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, has now discovered the chemicals that amazingly mummified Rosalia’’s body.

Piombino-Mascali traced living relatives of Alfredo Salafia, a Sicilian taxidermist and embalmer who died in 1933.

Salafia’’s papers revealed a handwritten record in which he detailed the chemicals he injected into Rosalia’’s body formalin, zinc salts, alcohol, salicylic acid, and glycerin.

While formalina mixture of formaldehyde and water that kills bacteriais widely used by embalmers these days, Salafia was one of the first to use this for embalming bodies.

Piombino-Mascali explained that alcohol, along with the arid conditions in the catacombs, would have dried Rosalia’’s body and allowed it to mummify.

Also he revealed that glycerin would have kept her body from drying out too much, and salicylic acid would have prevented the growth of fungi.

However, it was the zinc salts that were most responsible for Rosalia’’s amazing state of preservation, said Melissa Johnson Williams, executive director of the American Society of Embalmers.

Zinc, which is no longer used by embalmers in the United States, petrified Rosalia’’s body.

“[Zinc] gave her rigidity. You could take her out of the casket prop her up, and she would stand by herself,” National Geographic News quoted Williams as saying.

For Piombino-Mascali the self-taught Salafia was an artist.

“He elevated embalming to its highest level, he said. (ANI)

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