May 18, 2024

Capuchin Catacombs: Solving the Mysteries of Palermo’s Child Mummies

Dr. Squires explained: “The Capuchin Catacombs consist of one of the most important collections of mummies in the world. However, there is extremely little documentary proof about the children who were granted mummification and the death records from the period consist of restricted details. Our research study will correct this knowledge gap.
” Given that this funerary rite was generally booked for adults, we wish to understand why the kids were mummified. We have a fairly great concept that they were from the upper ranks of society however we dont know a lot more about juvenile health, development, or identity throughout this period. This job will provide vital information to determine which children were managed mummification and to put this into a wider context.”
The Arts and Humanities Research Council has granted more than ₤ 70k funding for the two-year task which begins in December 2021 and will see Dr. Squires work alongside Scientific Curator of the Capuchin Catacombs Dr. Dario Piombino-Mascali, and experts in radiography Dr. Robert Loynes, Dr. Mark Viner, and Mr. Wayne Hoban. The project will be performed under the guidance of the Superintendence for the Cultural and Environmental Heritage of Palermo.
The vaults of the Capuchin burial places in Palermo. Credit: Wood inscribing by E. de S.
The project will pioneer non-invasive methods– as opposed to harmful strategies such as autopsy– to analyze the remains of forty-one mummified children from the 19th century. This will involve utilizing portable X-ray systems to capture digital images of each kid from head to toe. In total, 574 radiographs will be taken to help approximate their age and sex plus determine any traumatic and pathological sores.
Dr. Squires stated: “Determining whether children buried in the Catacombs suffered ecological stresses on their body can inform us of living conditions and the environments in which they lived; this will be compared with the biological attributes of kids buried elsewhere in Palermo who were not afforded mummification.
” We hope that the creation of a standardized method will allow other researchers to apply this non-invasive method in the research study of child mummies worldwide– an essential outcome offered the ethical ramifications connected with invasive examinations.”
As photography is forbidden in the Catacombs and the topic is highly sensitive, artist Eduardo Hernandez will produce illustrations of the juvenile mummies to be shared together with journal articles, lectures, a blog site, and teaching packs equated into both English and italian.
Dr. Squires added: “This is a truly interesting chance to find out more about life in late modern Sicily. There is currently restricted information about the mummification of children in the Catacombs meaning there is little context to the display of juvenile mummies. Our research study will assist travelers and the broader public discover more about the children housed in the Catacombs and the cultural significance of this mortuary rite.”

Mummies in the Catacombs of the Capuchins in Palermo, Italy.
The very first extensive research study of mummified kids in Sicilys well-known Capuchin Catacombs is being led by Staffordshire University.
Dr. Kirsty Squires, Associate Professor of Bioarchaeology, and her team have actually been offered exclusive access to a formerly unstudied collection of childrens mummies housed in the underground cemetery of the Capuchin Convent in Palermo.
The Catacombs include the largest collection of mummies in Europe, with over 1,284 mummified and skeletonized bodies dating from the late sixteenth to early twentieth century. Kids were accepted in the Catacombs from 1787 however while extensive research has been conducted on the mummified adults, the juvenile mummies have largely been neglected.

” The Capuchin Catacombs make up among the most crucial collections of mummies in the world. Nevertheless, there is very little documentary proof about the children who were given mummification and the death records from the duration consist of limited information. Our research study will correct this understanding space.”– Dr. Kirsty Squires, Associate Professor of Bioarchaeology

There is very little documentary evidence about the children who were approved mummification and the death records from the period consist of restricted details. There is very little documentary proof about the children who were granted mummification and the death records from the period include minimal information. The task will leader non-invasive techniques– as opposed to devastating strategies such as autopsy– to examine the remains of forty-one mummified children from the 19th century. There is presently restricted information about the mummification of kids in the Catacombs significance there is little context to the screen of juvenile mummies. Our research study will help tourists and the larger public learn more about the children housed in the Catacombs and the cultural significance of this mortuary rite.”