(CNN) – A staff of scientists tries to search out out why dozens of youngsters had been mummified and buried in catacombs in a convent on the Italian island of Sicily.
The first complete research of toddler mummies might be led by Kirsty Squires, Associate Professor of Bioarchaeology on the University of Staffordshire, UK, and fieldwork will start subsequent week.
Researchers will analyze the stays of 41 youngsters buried in a room within the Catacombs of the Capuchins, a macabre vacationer attraction in Palermo, northern Sicily, though in whole there are 163 youngsters buried within the catacombs.
“We want to try to understand the lives of these individuals, their health, their development, etc.,” Squires instructed CNN on Thursday. “And from that, we also want to compare the biological data with the more cultural side of things.”
Squires added that the mummies had been absolutely clothed, and that some had been positioned in cradles and chairs, whereas others had been standing with sticks used to carry them in place, and the researchers will look at the importance of sporting these equipment.
Little is understood about these youngsters, who had been buried between 1787 and 1880 and are a part of the most important assortment of mummified stays in Europe, consisting of at the very least 1,284 our bodies.
“We know that they came from middle-class families: the rite of mummification was reserved for the wealthiest individuals, such as the nobility, the middle class and the clergy,” explains Squires.
“So we know they weren’t the poorest members of society, but that’s all we know, really.” Squires added, “Why weren’t they buried like the other individuals?”
The staff is utilizing X-ray imaging as a result of it’s a non-invasive methodology that doesn’t increase the identical moral concerns as invasive analysis on human stays, in accordance with a information launch from the University of Staffordshire.
“We are using a portable x-ray machine to take radiographs so we can estimate the age of individuals based on their eruption and dental development, and bone fusion,” Squires stated, including that he would search for indicators of illness.
The researchers will use the X-rays, 574 in whole, or 14 per mummy, to finish a organic profile of the youngsters and discover out if mummification was solely carried out on these of a sure age or intercourse.
“They will also be used to detect the presence of developmental defects, indicators of stress and pathological lesions, with which it is intended to know the health and lifestyle of children in life,” in accordance with the undertaking web site.
According to Squires, mummification was a typical observe within the catacombs from round 1599 till the start of the twentieth century, thought-about by the center class as a “way of keeping their social persona alive after death”, and households visited the our bodies of their buried family.
Squires and his co-investigator Dario Piombino-Mascali, from Vilnius University, Lithuania, might be accompanied by two radiologists and an artist within the catacombs and can spend per week analyzing loss of life data. However, it will likely be months earlier than the outcomes are launched, he stated.