, Volume 454, Issue 3, pp 355-357
Date: 10 Feb 2009

The Salafia method rediscovered

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Sir,

Embalming has played an essential role in human culture for much of history. While religious and cultural beliefs were the main motivators throughout antiquity, Modern Age advances in anatomy, pathology, and chemistry have caused body preservation to become an important tool for funerary purposes and educational and scientific practice [1]. In recent years, the authors have investigated the life and preparation techniques of Professor Alfredo Salafia (1869–1933), a Sicilian embalmer who devised a method of permanent preservation of soft tissue for dissection and funeral preparation (Fig. 1a).

Having started his experiments with animals, Salafia achieved unexpectedly satisfactory results in the early 1900s, after he was granted permission to apply his procedure to unclaimed human bodies, which remained in an excellent state of preservation after arterial injection of a special fluid [2]. From 1902 forward, he was responsible for the embalming of many prominent citizens of Palermo, in ...