The Embalming Art in the Modern Age: The Mummies of Caroline, Letizia and Joachim-Napoleon Agar as Examples of Funerary Rites in the Napoleonic Empire

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  • 1 Università La Sapienza, Italy

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In the early 1980s a systematic investigation was begun by G. Fornaciari and his staff of a series of mummies from central and southern Italy, and in particular of important Renaissance remains. The study of a substantial number of artificial mummies has shed light on the human embalming techniques connected with the methods and procedures described by medical and non-medical authors in the early modern period. This has made it possible to reconstruct the history of the art of mummification, from the ‘clyster’ techniques to the partial or total evisceration of the corpse, to the intravascular injection of drying and preserving liquors.

In addition to the bodies of Aragonese princes and members of the Neapolitan nobility, interred in the Basilica of San Domenico in Naples are the remains of important French personages dating to the modern age. Among the tombs arranged in two parallel rows to the right of the balcony are four sarcophagi containing the bodies of the wife and three children of Jean Antoine Michel Agar, who served as the Minister of Finance of the Kingdom of Naples from 1809 to 1815. The type of wrapping used for the corpses of the children presents strong analogies to those of ancient Egyptian mummies.

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