A creepy tomb holding the dead bodies of over 160 mummified children who died two centuries ago is being investigated to find out how the kids ended up there.
The world-famous Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo in Sicily, Italy, has long been shrouded in mystery, and it is still unknown why the tiny bodies were placed in the structure.
One of the mummified children, a two-year-old who died of pneumonia, has been described as the “world’s most beautiful mummy”. Her facial features, hair and clothes have been perfectly preserved since her death.
The youths were placed in the catacombs after they died between 1787 and 1880, with the site being used for human remains as early as the late 1590s.
Curious tourists have been able to walk past them for several years now, but records from the era give little information on how the deceased ended up in the resting place.
And a group of British researchers is now hoping to shine a light on the lives of the long-deceased kids, with one saying he "wants to make sure their stories" and their "presence on this Earth" is not forgotten.
The team from Staffordshire University will use X-ray technology to decipher information about their lifestyle habits and their ages, according to lead researcher Kirsty Squires.
They will be scanning the bodies 'head to toe' for evidence of defects, trauma, and diseases.
Ms Squires told NBC News: “We are looking for cause of death, health conditions at the time of death, and development,”
"We will take a portable X-ray unit and take hundreds of images of the children from different angles"
“No one has looked at the mummies to better understand these attributes before.”
Dario Piombino-Mascali, a co-investigator and a biological anthropologist from Vilnius University in Lithuania, has spoken to reassure the public that there will be no damage inflicted on the mummified children.
He commented: “Imaging methods are non-invasive, and as the mummies cannot be moved out of the crypt, this approach is only feasible.”
Work is set to begin on the site next week.
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