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The privileged burial of the Pava Pieve (Siena, 8th Century AD)


The 6th archaeological excavation campaign performed at the 'Pieve di Pava' (San Giovanni d'Asso, Siena, Italy) unearthed a privileged stone burial of a single individual (US 2378), covered by a monolithic slab and placed in front of an altar. The skeletal remains of a young male (18–20?years old), not in anatomical connection, were found at the bottom floor of a tomb (160?cm long, 40?cm large and over 70?cm deep).

A multidisciplinary study has been carried out concerning that privileged bone burial. The study combines paleopathology studies, stable isotope palaeodietary reconstruction, radiocarbon dating and archaeological analyses.

14?C dating of the skeleton revealed a date between 650 and 688?AD. Stable isotope analysis (d18O, d13C, d15N) attested that he was probably a member of the local population, whose diet was rather rich in animal proteins. The paleopathological study diagnosed a case of acromesomelic dysplasia, a congenital anomaly with disproportion of the limbs. Archaeological evidence regarding the circular delimitation of the bones suggested that the skeleton was a secondary deposition, transported to the church in a sack.

We argue that the relic was used for the re-consecration of the church, following the restoration work in the 8th century. We conclude that the skeleton belonged to an eminent personage (e.g., either the member of a local elite family or a saint).

Acceptance Date May 29, 2012
Publication Date Sep 10, 2012
Journal Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry
Print ISSN 0951-4198
Publisher Wiley
Pages 2393 -2398
Publisher URL

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