"a means of petrifying the body after death, so as to preserve it, as hard as marble"
Girolamo Segato
Public DomainGirolamo Segato - Credit: G. Forino lithograph

Petrification is the process by which organic material is converted into stone.  Petrified wood is a common result of this process, but all organisms can be petrified.

In the early 1800s, Italian Girolamo Segato (1792 – 1836), a naturalist, cartographer, Egyptologist and anatomist, claimed to have successfully petrified human remains.

Segato had participated in several archaeological expeditions to Egypt, becoming an expert in the techniques of mummification.  Working in Florence in 1823, he developed a technique similar to mummification.  However, rather than removing water from cadavers, he seems to have managed to petrify them.  Word spread that Segato had acquired knowledge of Egyptian magic. He kept his method a closely guarded secret, and destroyed all his notes before his death. 

Segato's surviving petrified human remains can be found in the Museum of the Department of Anatomy in Florence.  Numerous studies and attempts to imitate his feat have failed.