Medical, Social and Economics Aspects in the Sulphur Mines in Sicily (1791 - 1964)

Renato Malta, G. Maira, Alfredo Salerno


In Sicily the sulphur extraction represented an occasion of economic growth and a development for the dignity of the workers. The carusi, young boys from 6 to 14 years old, were given up by their parents in return of a hardly payed of loan; it was the so called soccorso morto (dead aid). They were submitted to an enormous very hard physical work that caused severe damage to the skeleton and this was the reason of their inability to military service. The anthropometric surveys of carusi and pupils highlight for the first ones a reduced increase of the height and for the second ones the presence of gibbo. For this reasons the inhabitans of Racalmuto were called racalmutesi immiruti which means that people who lives in Racalmuto were hunchbackted. Nowadays its possible to say that dietary and nutritional causes determined metabolic damages to the skeleton. A comparison between people who have been declared unable for military service belonged to the two lower clones of farmers and miners showed a lower incidence of the first ones. The law of 1866 on child labour assigned to medical doctors the task of certifying their suitability to work: the first step of normalisation on a medical care basis.


Key Words:Sulphur miners - Carusi - Skeleton pathology

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