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  • Locations: Sicily, Italy
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Field of Study: Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Forensic Science, Natural Resources Housing Options: Hotels, Other
Language of Instruction: English, Italian Minimum GPA: 2.5
Number of Credits: 3 Credit Hours Courses Offered: NRES 492
Course Credit: UNL Credit UNL Sponsor(s): Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Arts & Sciences
Experience Type: study abroad Program Type: Faculty-Led
Program Leader(s) or Contact(s): Debra Meier, Karl Reinhard Education Abroad Coordinator(s): Allison Hinesley
Academic Level: 02 - Sophomore, 03 - Junior, 04 - Senior, 05 - Graduate or Professional Student, Faculty/Staff
UNL Faculty-Led - Offered in academic year(s):
2015-2016, 2016-2017
Program Description:

Program Highlights

  • Visually assess mummy preservation and learn how scientists are involved in the conservation and preservation of religiously significant people.
  • Attend lectures on a variety of topics related to mummification including crypt archaeology, the cult of the dead in Sicilian Catholicism, the role of sacred mummies in society, and architecture design related to mummification and preservation.
  • Participate in cultural and religious events supported by the Sicily Cultural Heritage Department, the town council and the catholic churches.
  • Spend two weeks living and studying on the main island of Sicily! 


Course of Study

The purpose of NRES 492, Sicily: Mummy Studies, is to provide a firsthand understanding of mummy studies, but more specifically in Sicilian context of religious mummies. Students will spend approximately 2 weeks living and studying in a renovated convent, the Capuchin Convent and the annexed church in the village of Santa Lucia del Mela, Sicily. They will also visit crypts and catacombs in Palermo and the village of Piraino also located on the main island of Sicily. The students will participate in visual assessment of mummy preservation at these three locations. They will visit Sicily's newest "saint" (the Blessed Antonio Franco, 26 September 1585 – 2 September 1626), and learn how scientists are involved in the conservation and preservation of religiously significant people. Of utmost importance will be the need for all participants to follow the rules for human remains set up by the Sicily Cultural Heritage Department. They will have freedom to do visual examination of the mummies, but we will not do any invasive examination of the corpses. Students will attend lectures on a variety of topics related to mummification including cultural and biological aspects. Biological lessons include taphonomy of human body as well as intrinsic and extrinsic factors of decomposition and forensic entomology. Cultural aspects include crypt archaeology, cult of the dead in Sicilian Catholicism, the role of sacred mummies in society, and architecture design related to mummification & preservation. Demonstrations of specialized studies including, X-ray and CT scanning, paleopathology, facial reconstruction and microscopic study of dietary remains will also be provided as part of the curriculum. 

Course Credit

Students will receive 1-3 credits of NRES 492.


This program will be open to any UNL student with a minimum GPA of 2.0. In addition, this program is open to students from other eligible colleges and institutions. Pre-recs for this field school would include courses in the analysis of human remains and anatomy.

Faculty Leaders

This program will be led by Dr. Karl Reinhard, School of Natural Resources. He has extensive experience in mummy studies from field work in Peru, Chile and Brazil including mummy excavation, autopsy and specialized analyses. He directed graduate students in these countries and conducted three Fulbright-sponsored classes and/or workshops in Peru and Brazil. 

Sicilian co-Director is Dr. Dario Piombino-Mascali. Piombino-Mascali is coordinator of the"Sicily Mummy Project", aimed at investigating the human mummified remains stored in several crypts and churches of Sicily, sponsored by the Sicilian Department of Culture. Currently he is a National Geographic explorer and visiting researcher in the Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Lithuania. In the past, he served as a mummy studies specialist at the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, held within the European Academy of Bolzano, Italy. He discovered the secret embalming formula of Professor Alfredo Salafia, a noted Sicilian taxidermist who preserved, amongst others, the body of little Rosalia Lombardo, also known as the "Sleeping Beauty" of Palermo. He is a native of Sicily.

UNL co-Director Dr. Debra Meier of the CBA, is a distance education expert with extensive experience in mummy studies. She travelled extensively in South America to assess the preservation of mummies in museums and research facilities. She specialized in developing intervention strategies to preserve rapidly decomposing Egyptian mummies. In Brazil, she taught courses on mummy conservation. Her specialties are facial reconstruction, anoxic environments for mummy conservation, and mummy preservation in museum settings. 

UNL co-Director Dr. Johnica Morrow of the Natural Resource Sciences, specializes in applied ecology.  She has also been broadly trained as a whole  organism biologist, palynologist, parasitologist, pathecologist. She has conducted both domestic and international collaborative research projects that were interdisciplinary in nature. Her experience with mummy research has focused on the analysis of macrobotanicals, pollen and starch grains, and geographic regions. These projects include examinations of parasites among mummies from Lithuania's Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit, puparia from the Blessed Antonio Patrizi of Monticiano, and embalming jar contents from some of the members of Florence's famed Medici family. 


This program will take place on the island of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature, cuisine and architecture.

Accommodations and Other ArrangementsItaly

INTERNATIONAL AIRFARE:  Program participants will book their own airfare to and from Italy. A suggested flight itinerary will be given to students if they wish to fly with other participants.
LODGING and MEALS in COUNTRY: At a reduced cost, the church and community of Santa Lucia are opening the Capuchin Convent and its facilities for our use at a low fee. The convent stay will include dormitories, lounges, lecture halls, crypt access, laundry rooms, kitchens, dining room showers, bathrooms and three meals a day of traditional Sicilian cuisine.
TRANSPORTATION in COUNTRY:  Sicilian and UNL faculty will arrange travel and transport to the study sites in Palermo and Piraino.
ACCESS to LAUNDRY FACILITIES:  Students will most likely have access to a wash machine at their dormitory for an extra fee.
DOCUMENTATION REQUIRED for TRAVEL:  All U.S. citizens will need a valid passport to participate on the program. Non-U.S. citizens need to research entry requirements specific to the country of destination at the time of applying to the program. Deadline to upload passport to MyWorld: March 15, 2017.
 HEALTH AND MOBILITY:  Participants will be asked to walk distances throughout the program. 


See the Budget Sheet near the top of this page (click on "Summer") and the Fund your Experience page on the Education Abroad website. See the Budget Sheet near the top of this page (click on "Summer") and the Fund your Experience page on the Education Abroad website. 

Explanation of Costs

Please see the Budget Sheet for a detailed explanation of billable and non-billable program costs, withdrawal policies, and the payment process. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.


Upon confirmation of participation, program participants will pay a $500 deposit (including a non-refundable $150 Education Abroad Fee). The $500 deposit will be applied to the final program cost balance. If a participant withdraws from a program, the participant will be responsible for any irrecoverable costs associated with the program at the time of withdrawal.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Please see the Education Abroad website for detailed information about financial aid and scholarships.

Additional Resources

Italian Embassy


Dates / Deadlines:

There are currently no active application cycles for this program.

This program is currently not accepting applications.