Museum of the mummies of Ferentillo
The Museum of mummies is a museum located in Ferentillo (in the province of Terni) that exhibits the ancient mummies of the inhabitants of the town.
The museum was created at the end of the nineteenth century when excavations carried out in the crypt of the old town church brought to light numerous mummified bodies, some of them with well-preserved clothes. Over the years, however, the humid air entering the windows began to compromise the state of conservation, both of the clothes and of the mummies themselves.
To avoid further damage and thanks to the great interest aroused by the phenomenon that in 1992 it was decided to create a new museum and to use new display cases for the conservation of the bodies.
The Church was built in the 15th century above an older church used as a burial ground from the 16th to 19th centuries.
The crypt, twenty-four meters long, nine wide, and about two high, has architectural and artistic elements dating back to the medieval church phase of the thirteenth century.
Ferentillo’s mummies were originated from a completely natural phenomenon.
The presence of microorganisms together with the particular ventilation of the premises has prevented the putrefaction of corpses.
For this reason in 1871 a Napoleonic edict forbade the inhabitants to be buried here.
Some of the mummies still have beards, teeth, and hairs.
Some of them are elderly people. There is also a Napoleonic soldier, a murderer with his victim, a mother with her child, two birds, the hunchback Severino and even two Chinese lovers pilgrims who died during their travel in Italy for cholera.
To date, there are 24 human mummies which include men, women, and children as well as 10 preserved heads, more than 270 skulls, a sealed coffin, and two mummified birds (one of them is an eagle).
The legend of the two Asian lovers tell of a rich Chinese man and his wife on their honeymoon in Italy on the occasion of the Jubilee of 1750; after falling ill, they died in Ferentillo, where they were buried in the village church. The legend is supported by the presence of their clothes, in good condition until the seventies.
Images of the mummies of Ferentillo
Article originally published on Feb 13, 2013. Updated Mar 20, 2019