Human body preservation - old and new techniques

J Anat. 2014 Mar;224(3):316-44. doi: 10.1111/joa.12160. Epub 2014 Jan 18.


This review deals with the art of (anatomical) embalming. The first part contains a brief historical review of the history of embalming, starting with ancient cultures such as the Egyptians and the lesser known Chinchorro culture, then going down the centuries and describing the anatomical techniques developed over the last two centuries. The second part deals in detail with the chemicals used for embalming purposes. The third part deals with several approaches to evaluating embalming methods, their suitability for biomechanical testing, antimicrobial properties, histological appearance, and usability. The fourth and final part analyze the European Biocidal Products Directive (98/8/EC) in the light of embalming.

Keywords: anatomy/education; anatomy/history; anatomy/legislation and jurisprudence; anatomy/methods; anatomy/supply and distribution; education; embalming/education; embalming/history; embalming/legislation and jurisprudence; embalming/methods; embalming/standards; embalming/supply and distribution; medical/supply and distribution.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Embalming / history
  • Fixatives* / chemistry
  • History, 15th Century
  • History, 16th Century
  • History, 17th Century
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Organ Preservation Solutions* / chemistry
  • Tissue Preservation / history
  • Tissue Preservation / methods*


  • Fixatives
  • Organ Preservation Solutions