Dario Piombino-Mascali


Expeditions Council Grantee

Photo: Piombino-Mascali studies mummy remains

Photograph by Gianluca Colla

Photo: Dario Piombino-Mascali

Photograph courtesy Dario Piombino-Mascali

Birthplace: Messina, Italy

Home: Bolzano, Italy

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be an archaeologist.

How did you get started in your field of work?

While studying biological anthropology in Pisa, I realized that I could apply all that I had learned to the huge number of mummified remains present in my native island, Sicily.

What inspires you to dedicate your life to anthropology?

I like the idea that this enormous cultural heritage will be protected and appreciated by future generations.

What's a normal day like for you?

When I am on a mummy mission, I work in the crypt as long as permitted, documenting, sampling, and taking notes. It is great to go out in the evening after a long, tough day.

Do you have a hero?

My hero is my mentor, Professor Arthur Aufderheide, a pathologist specializing in mummy studies I had the honor and privilege to work with. He is the godfather of modern mummy research.

What has been your favorite experience in the field? The most challenging?

The work I cherish the most is the study on little Rosalia Lombardo, Palermo's Sleeping Beauty, which we CT scanned in late 2010.

What are your other passions?

I love traveling, swimming, reading books about art history, and am a great cook.

What do you do in your free time?

I often go jogging, go out with my friends and colleagues, and collect old photographs of the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, the museum of which I am curator.


Inside National Geographic Magazine

In Their Words

I like the idea that this enormous cultural heritage will be protected and appreciated by future generations.

—Dario Piombino-Mascali


  •  Mummy picture: Italian corpse from the 19th century

    Mummy Pictures

    Anatomist Giovan Battista Rini (1795-1856) "petrified" corpses by bathing them in a cocktail of mercury and other heavy metals.

Our Explorers in Action

See Photos »

Meet All Our Explorers

  • NationalGeographic_1289095-flag.jpg

    Explorers A-Z

    At the heart of our explorers program is the quest for knowledge through exploration and the people who make it possible.

  • Photo: Michael Lombardi diving

    Explorers by Category

    Browse our different areas of exploration and discover the fascinating people behind the projects.