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19th century mummified heads analysed

Researchers have examined a collection of Italian 19th century mummifed heads.

A mounted human head strikes a brain-teasing pose—just one of eight forgotten but stunningly preserved 19th-century Italian mummies whose secrets of preservation have only recently been unraveled.

Working in the town of Salò, anatomist Giovan Battista Rini (1795-1856) “petrified” the corpses and body parts by bathing them in a cocktail of mercury and other heavy metals, according to new chemical analyses and CT scans, to be described in a future issue of the journal Clinical Anatomy.

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Story: James Owen, National Geographic News | Photo: Dario Piombino-Mascali, EURAC, and Clinical Anatomy/Wiley

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