A Medical Bandage in an Italian Renaissance Mummy (Naples, XVI Century)

Valentina Giuffra, Silvia Marinozzi, Claudia Vultaggio, Gino Fornaciari


A dressing was observed on the left arm of the mummy of Mary of Aragon (1503-1568), under her precious Renaissance clothes. It consisted of a true medical bandage, covering a large syphilitic cutaneous ulcer, with a sulphur-embedded wad still in situ. The bandage has a very peculiar shape,rather different from the usual dressings described in the contemporary medical texts: a central rectangular pad, used as compressing appliance,is provided with a sort of pocket containing ivy leaves. The function of the dressing was not only to cover and protect the ulcer, but also to apply a plant drug. This is the first case of ancient medical bandage studied directly on a mummified body.


Key words: Mary of Aragon - Dressing - Ivy Leaves - Sulphur - Syphilis

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