Monday, June 23, 2014

Toddler Mummy Opens Her Eyes

A Night at the Museum does not seem as fantastical as it used to since the discovery of a pharaoh statue spinning in circles at a British Museum last year and a toddler mummy appearing to open and close her eyes in an Italian catacomb. Museums are coming alive. Except Robin Williams isn't making any appearances as Teddy Roosevelt yet. The spinning pharaoh myth has since been squashed but the case of the mummy child remained at large until a few days ago.

Two year old Rosalia "Sleeping Beauty" Lombardo died of pneumonia in 1920 and in hopes of preserving her adorableness, was embalmed by the noted taxidermist, Alfredo Salafia, at the request of her father. You know, like you would a deer from a hunting trip. Rosalia was placed in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo in Sicily among 8,000 other mummies. 

Captured in lapse photos and videos, Rosalia appears to open and close her eyes several times a day. You be the judge:


Put. That. Little. Girl. On. Lockdown. Curator of the Capuchin Catacombs, Dario Piombino-Mascali, assures the public that the phenomenon is only an optical illusion caused by the changing light that filters into the room throughout the day. In fact, Rosalia's eyelids have never been completely closed. 

The mummification of Rosalia is still considered one of the best examples in the world, although Salafia's methods remained a mystery until 2009. A handwritten manuscript was found in which Salafia listed the chemicals he used to preserve the body: "one part glycerin, one part formalin saturated with both zinc sulfate and chloride, and one part of an alcohol solution saturated with salicylic acid.” With a single injection, Salafia used formalin to kill the bacteria, glycerin to keep the body from overdrying, salicylic acid to kill fungi, and zinc salts to petrify Rosalia’s body. 

Rosalia stands out among all others in the catacombs because not only is she one of the last to be placed inside, but she was mummified artificially, a strong departure from the others whose mummification process included exposure to the dry environment. Oh, and she freaking blinks.

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