The Salafia method rediscovered
- 285 Downloads
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 . 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 . From 1902 forward, he was responsible for the embalming of many prominent citizens of Palermo,...
KeywordsEmbalming Formaldehyde History Italy 19th century 20th century
We are most grateful to the relatives of Professor Salafia, who enabled us to complete this research, as well as two anonymous reviewers who commented on the original paper. Special thanks are due to Angela Graefen, who patiently edited the text. This article is dedicated to the memory of the embalming historians Edward C. and Gail R. Johnson, who first researched the work of Alfredo Salafia.
- 1.Marinozzi S, Fornaciari G (2005) Le Mummie e l’Arte Medica nell’Evo Moderno. Med Secoli, Supplemento, 1Google Scholar
- 2.Johnson EC, Johnson GR, Johnson-Williams M (1993) The Salafia method. American Funeral Director, May: 24–25, 54, 66, 68Google Scholar
- 3.Salafia A (circa 1927–1933) Nuovo metodo speciale per la conservazione del cadavere umano intero allo stato permanentemente fresco. Unpublished manuscript, PalermoGoogle Scholar
- 4.Habenstein RW, Lamers WM (2007) The history of American funeral directing, 6th edn. National Funeral Directors Association, BrookfieldGoogle Scholar
- 5.Mendelsohn S (1940) Embalming fluids. Their historical development and formulation from the standpoint of the chemical aspects of the scientific art of preserving human remains. Chemical, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 6.Strub CG, Frederick LGD (1967) The principles and practice of embalming, 4th edn. “Darko” Frederick, DallasGoogle Scholar
- 7.Lanzillotti-Buonsanti A (1895) Conservazione dei cadaveri e preparazioni da museo. Tipografia Editrice LF Cogliati, MilanGoogle Scholar
- 8.Trillat A (1892) Sur les propriétés antiseptiques de la formaldéhyde. C R Hebd Séances Acad Sci 114:1278–1281Google Scholar
- 10.Koehler R, Lumière A and L (1895) Sur une nouvelle application de l’aldéhyde formique a la conservation des cadavres et a l’embaumement. Bibl Anatom III:31–32Google Scholar