In Siciliy, there’s a very spooky mummy of a girl who died in 1920. Occassionally, she can be seen to open and close her eyes. Italian researchers now say there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation — and it has nothing to do with her being among the undead.
One of the world’s best preserved mummies, Rosalia is the most famous among some 8,000 thousands mummies lining the catacombs beneath the Capuchin convent in Palermo, Sicily.
Nicknamed “sleeping beauty,” she looks like a 2-year-old baby taking a nap. Poking above a blanket, her peaceful face is framed by curly blond hair, while a ribbon is still tied around her head.
“It’s an optical illusion produced by the light that filters through the side windows, which during the day is subject to change,” Dario Piombino-Mascali, curator of the Capuchin Catacombs, said in a statement.
The anthropologist unearthed Rosalia’s real secret in 2009, when he found the mysterious formula used for her amazing preservation. While most of the mummies buried in the catacombs were treated by the monks and basically desiccated by the dry environment, Rosalia was mummified artificially.
In 2009 Piombino-Mascali found a handwritten manuscript in which Salafia listed the ingredients used to mummify Rosalia. The formula read: “one part glycerin, one part formalin saturated with both zinc sulfate and chloride, and one part of an alcohol solution saturated with salicylic acid.”
The procedure was very simple, consisting of a single point injection without any drainage or cavity treatment. The concoction worked perfectly. Formalin killed bacteria, glycerin kept her body from overdrying, salicylic acid killed fungi, while zinc salts basically petrified Rosalia’s body. The new glass case will help preserve Rosalia for many more years.
He hopes that from now on tourists will stop taking pictures and making up “totally unfounded stories” about the child mummy.